Chai, please.ūü•§

MiniBus Coffee Shop Bamboo walk

Just how cute is this? A mini bus ūüöƬ†coffee shop on a 1-block street just off the bike trail next to the Los Angeles River. The day was rainy, the chai was warm. ūüĆľ¬†The buildings on this street are doing their best to be inconspicuous. Fading European trompe l’oeil, a grandma watching out of one window, a cat lounging at another, and the ground levels suffering from uninspired attempts to erase graffiti. These were just cute enough to make me stop and take photos until we noticed cameras watching us. Ah. Le March√© and der Ratskeller want us to believe, “nothing to see here”.¬†Windows 3

Windows 4

Windows 5

If you could change anything to improve your life, what might that be?

I would love to open the comment section to all the ways people might answer that question: “Pay off all my bills‚ÄĒplease.”¬†“Tell me how to get more money each month without working more!” Or, maybe you know people having a hard time and your life would be better just knowing that their lives could be better. Right?

Beautiful. I like it. Let’s try that again, a little differently this time.

If you could change anything to improve the world, what might that be? You might start with the same comments above, like paying off debts for people¬†and nations. Wouldn’t this help reduce taxes? How might this help the homeless situation that has exploded beyond control? And while we’re on this topic, what about getting a handle on PEACE between nations‚ÄĒ and stopping these wars‚ÄĒ and the SPENDING?

Whoops! Went flying out of control there.
Or did I?

You are in for a shocker: the solutions and financing to handle those issues are in place. The people to do it are coordinating like an orchestra to make it happen. No one needs to collect anyone’s money. This organization is SELF-FUNDED! Woah…

Will you be able to get your bills paid off? Yes. Will you get more money each month without working more? Yes. And the national debt, paid off? Yes. For all countries? Yes. And the homeless situation, can it be fixed? Yes.

What other goodies might be tucked in to this World Gift Solution of Payments 1-11? Read to find out! Lots of people have been working really hard on this behind the scenes.

When will it happen? Tune in with your Basic-Income-radar: sign up on Official Facebook pages, find it on Twitter, or follow this blog so you know when it arrives to your continent/country/state/province/ town/neighborhood! This is happening‚ÄĒ it’s a Mandate to change the world.
http://www.swissindo.net

 

Easy Crock-Pot Cioppino

Capt. Kidd’s is the go-to fish monger in Redondo Beach where you can also get great Cioppino. Eating there inspired me to look for¬†an easy recipe¬†to tackle. Seafood may¬†not seem like a great crock pot pairing: extended cooking + seafood = rubber. If the seafood is thrown in during the last half hour though,¬†it is a total win¬†for the cod, shrimp, and calamari in this recipe.

Although the name Cioppino is Italian, it’s origin is suggested to be from San Francisco¬†where local fishermen used crabmeat common to¬†those markets. While¬†researching, I also found similar regional dishes for other countries: their versions of Fisherman’s Stew. I had never heard of Brazilian ‘Moqueca’, but I have since¬†visited a restaurant in Oxnard with that exact name: Moqueca Restaurant.¬†You can dine overlooking their little marina and you will not go away hungry.¬†The HUGE bowl for 2 comes still bubbling to the table. (And there was enough left over to take some home.)

Brazillian Moqueca
Brazillian Moqueca, fisherman’s stew from Moqueca Restaurant in Oxnard. http://www.moquecarestaurant.com

 

Back to my humble Cioppino ‚ÄĒ

Photos taken on-the-fly¬†means lighting and¬†composition¬†weren’t really considered. Instead I run the images through a Photoshop filter to make up for lameness. I also found out that food only looks good through a few filters.

Stage 1: First, I turned on the crock pot and¬†started throwing in the first 12 items. Open up the clam juice, pour it in. Open the diced tomatoes, throw ’em in. White wine, a little vinegar, olive oil, a bay leaf. The onions, celery and garlic needed to be chopped¬†but the liquids were already starting to warm & blend¬†once I was ready to add the rest.

Crock-pot Cioppino, gluten-free recipe
Pouring clam juice in to crock-pot. Photoshop filter used: Accented Edges.

 

I had forgotten to pick up Italian seasoning so I Googled an Italian seasoning recipe to aim for the general ballpark of flavors.

Crock-pot Cioppino
Making homemade Italian seasoning from whatever was on hand. This photo is posterized.

 

I made exactly the amount I needed and threw it all in.

Crock-pot Cioppino, gluten free recipe.
Making homemade italian seasoning. Photoshop filter used: Paint daubs

 

Below¬†is everything minus seafood, ready for the 4 hours of cookin’ (no work).

Crock-pot Cioppino
I increased the color saturation on this photo. Other filters seemed to mask the subtle differences of the garlic-to-onion details.

 

Truth be told, I was running a bit behind on time so I increased the temperature for part of the cooking time from low, to high. I made sure to turn down the heat well before the end so the liquid wouldn’t end up overcooking the seafood.

Part 2: About half an hour before I deemed this dish to be complete, I started adding the seafood. A can of clams, but I skipped the can of crab meat. The seafood guy recommended against it because crab has such a delicate flavor. I just might put it in anyway another go-round because the texture would be good. I cut up the cod (which was subbing for Haddock) and proceeded to add it, shelled shrimp, and the calamari tubes and tentacles.

Cioppino recipe, gluten-free
Cod, shrimp and calamari. Photoshop filter used is Accented Edges.

 

I recently read that cooking shrimp with shells on can really add to the flavor of the soup. It can also make a lot of work for whomever is trying to eat it. My main goal was to make as little work as possible, so I bought already shelled shrimp with the tails still intact.

Cioppino recipe, gluten free
Adding the shrimp, leaving tails on. Photoshop filter used is Posterize.

 

The finale! There is no rice or anything starchy in this recipe although my¬†photo kind of looks that way. It’s all veg, seafood, spices and liquid. But I did find some excellent gluten-free garlic toasts at Whole Foods. They work great for french onion soup too.

Thank you to:   http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/seafood-cioppino
See recipe at the bottom of the post.

Crockpot Cioppino
Crockpot Cioppino with shrimp, cod, calamari and clams. This Photoshop filter is Accented Edges.

Seafood Cioppino Recipe

Directions

  1. In a 4- or 5-qt. slow cooker, combine the first 12 ingredients. Cook, covered, on low 4-5 hours.
  2. Stir in seafood. Cook, covered, 20-30 minutes longer or until fish just begins to flake easily with a fork and shrimp turn pink.
  3. Remove bay leaf. Stir in parsley. Yield: 8 servings (2-1/2 quarts).

Ingredients

  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 bottle (8 ounces) clam juice
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup¬†white wine¬†or 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pound haddock fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces (I subbed cod)
  • 1 pound uncooked shrimp (41-50 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 1 can (6 ounces) chopped clams, undrained
  • 1 can (6 ounces) lump crabmeat, drained
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Night Photography & Steel Wool

A couple years ago after moving to California I signed up for a Night Photography Meetup. Held at an isolated beach just off the Pacific Coast Highway around central¬†Malibu, the beach itself is not visible from the road. It is quite narrow and backed by cliffs of rock. This¬†picturesque area is frequented by¬†photographers due to¬†nature’s backdrops¬†of rock, water and sand, and an inability for crowds to gather.

I had never heard of the photo approach we used that evening. I may still be missing some details but the gist of it was: tie steel wool to a rope, light it and then swing it around while people take photos. It was a total blast to see the resulting images. Thank you to Rusty Nelson for helping me with my camera settings. http://www.rustynelson.com/

Photo credits: Jodyt2.com

IMG_0573_750pxLiteIMG_0574x_750pxSquareIMG_0578_crop750px

Photography Meetup
Steel Wool photography

Chocolate Zucchini Bread (Gluten Free)

chocolatezucchinicake800pxTrying to do gluten free and still want a treat? This recipe always turns out great. Surprisingly light & fluffy, there is no¬†flour of any kind here. Decorate the¬†top with¬†mini chocolate chips and/or nuts to give it that extra “you” feature. There is a non-chocolate variation (check the original website below) using plain almond butter. I tried that once. It was more like bread and certainly has it’s uses, but I’d rather just make this ūüôā ^

Photo Credit: Jodyt2. Bread in the¬†photo is¬†made in 3 x 6″ tins.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Blend¬†or if Paleo, use almond butter sweetened with 1 tbsp of maple syrup and 1-2 tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (squeeze excess water out of the shredded zucchini)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp grade B¬†maple syrup ( I used grade a, but dark maple syrup)
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¬Ĺ tsp baking soda
  • ‚Öõ tsp sea salt
  • 1-2 tbsp mini chocolate chips
  • if using chopped pecans or walnuts – just throw ’em in the batter

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the chocolate hazelnut butter, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt and blend with a hand held mixer for 2 minutes on medium speed.
  3. Add baking soda and vinegar (will fizz up) and blend for 30 more seconds.
  4. Stir in shredded zucchini. Squeeze out excess water. (No need to go crazy, just get most of it out.)
  5. Place in a lined or greased loaf pan. You can use one 5×9″ pan or 2 mini loaf pans.
  6. Top with 1-2 tbsp of mini chocolate chips.
  7. Bake for 23-28 minutes if you have mini loaf pans and 35-50 minutes for large loaf pan. Start testing with a toothpick at 35 minutes and when it comes out clean when inserted in the center, it is done.
  8. Allow to cool on a cooling rack and serve.

Original recipe found at: http://wholelifestylenutrition.com/recipes/organic-chocolate-zucchini-bread-recipe/

Manila Photos

Manila, Philippines,  Intramuros, bay leaf hotel
Manila’s skyline from a hotel rooftop in Intramuros. The channel you see running from the lower left at a diagonal toward upper right is the wall. You can walk on portions of it.
Manila is packed with Jeepneys! They are open air buses that are inexpensive to ride. They are also the most colorful, expressive things I saw in Manila.
Manila is packed with Jeepneys! They are open air buses that are inexpensive to ride. They are also the most colorful, expressive things I saw in Manila.
Here's a colorful one, Jesus on the side.
Here’s a colorful one, Jesus on the side.
Another jeepney passing in front of a church. You'll note religious sayings on all the jeepneys. This one isn't as colorful as some but these shiny silver ones were common too.
Another jeepney passing in front of a church. You’ll note religious sayings on all the jeepneys. This one isn’t as colorful as some but these shiny silver ones were common too.
Manila, Philippines, minor basilica st. Lorenzo Ruiz
This church, Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, was striking with its dark color, red trim and shiny, shiny gold statues. The ceiling inside was quite unusual as well. (next photo)

imageimage

Manila, Philippines, Chinatown, diversy
Chinatown is an experience all it’s own. There are inside markets, outdoor markets and they all merge together.
Unfortunately, this type of scene was not the only one I saw. It was quite clear how many were homeless as I saw clothes hung to dry in public, most frequently on park fences.
Unfortunately, this type of scene was not the only one I saw. It was quite clear how many were homeless as I saw clothes hung to dry in public, most frequently on park fences.
Tri-bike, tourism, Manila, Philippines
“Tri-bikes” were everywhere like the jeepneys. The arrangement of the bike on the side of the cart made it convenient for a tour guide to speak with tourists without having to turn around 180 degrees. These navigated all roads, right alongside traffic. I took a ride in one my first day. The majority of these are extremely run down but I have to give the operators credit. My guide went out of his way to give me an informative tour, warned me ahead of every potential place to trip, and had brought along an umbrellas shield me from the sun. I saw these employed many ways other than for tourism. They seemed to do quite well transporting small bulk loads of all kinds of items and some operators were lucky enough to have a motorized bike.

I was trying to insert a final photo to represent my overall impression of Manila but the internet is being troublesome. I’m going to launch this just to get something up there!

Itinerary May 2014

Airlines:  Philippines Air, Air Asia, and Jet Star

Flight paths for next couple of weeks.
Flight paths for most of May.

Manila: 1-5

Singapore: 5-7

Phuket: 7-14

Bangkok: 14-20

Bali: 20-2

I realize now this map should have been posted earlier. Whoops! I will have to pull together my Manila info quickly. That part of the trip is wrapping up!

Early day tomorrow. Catching a flight to Singapore where I will stay with my college roommate, Lisa Bartz and her husband Arnold ūüôā See you there!

Vancouver, B.C.

Hello again! Technical problems prevailed and have slowed¬†my progress with the blog. Funny enough, the efficiency of the Philippine internet was a topic in the paper today here in Manila’s issue of The Business Mirror. The difficulty with speed, according to this article, has to do with the Philippines being an archipelago. No surprise then I had trouble in Bali, another member of an archipelago.

Also keeping with my theme of last year, my iPhone has become the default camera for this trip. I thought the higher quality “retina display” iPad would have a better camera than my 2, or 3-year old iPhone. That’s not the case. Moving on…

I loved Vancouver!

This orca sculpture at the waterfront looks like it is made of Leggos.
This orca sculpture at the waterfront looks like it is bit mapped in 3D!

I had planned to bicycle around Vancouver, but honestly, the air was nippy and clouds seemed to threaten rain so bicycling didn’t seem like the appropriate choice. I did find downtown Vancouver to be very walkable so long as you have a bit of time to get where you’re going. Walking across the bridge to Granville island I passed quite a few people also on foot.

View across harbor from bridge leading to Granville Island.
View across harbor from the bridge leading to Granville Island.

Granville Island sign

 

My “hotel” for this part of the trip was a woman’s high rise apartment. I couldn’t have chosen a better location. I was totally made to feel at home and received excellent suggestions on everything from dining to day trips to technical gadgetry.

View from Rosanna's office.
View from Rosanna’s office.

 

View from the room I stayed in.
View from the room I stayed in.

Rosanna lives on the 26th floor of a building in downtown Vancouver. Built adjacent to a mall, the roof below her living room window (and the room I stayed in) sports a sundial-looking clock. As luck would have it, surrounding buildings are all quite low and seem to be arranged in ascending levels of height away from hers. There are no close towers to make you feel like someone can look right in. Even more advantageous are the low buildings between her, the river and the mountains beyond. Her office view gets the full benefit.

Roz showing me one of the light-up umbrellas her father imported.
Roz showing me one of the light-up umbrellas her father imported.

Roz’ building is situated on the edge of Vancouver’s Chinatown, and also very near to another neighborhood called Gastown. Gastown, marked by an unusual steaming clock, is quite trendy with numerous bars and restaurants that make the ‘cool’ list. My first evening in Vancouver, Roz and I checked out a few of these places and every single one was packed.

Gastown clock.
Gastown clock.
The bar and restaurant Bambuddha serves up unique cocktails including this blue one topped with bubbled hibiscus.
The bar and restaurant Bambuddha serves up unique cocktails including this blue one topped with bubbled hibiscus.
Day of the Dead stained glass in  Gastown window.
Day of the Dead stained glass in Gastown window.

Roz had suggested I try going to Grouse Mountain. This ended up being easier than I thought. A short walk to the waterfront and I was on a swift aqua bus crossing to Lonsdale in no time. The aqua bus took less than 15 min. from start to finish. You then exit this station directly to where several buses are waiting to depart for various locations. A regular city bus takes you up into a very nice hillside neighborhood and terminates at the cable car for Grouse Mountain.

The restaurants at the top of the cable car leading to Grouse Mountian.
The restaurants at the top of the cable car leading to Grouse Mountain.
Cable car to Grouse Mountain.
Cable car to Grouse Mountain.

I also learned about something called The Grouse Grind. Stairs had been built into the hillside, straight up the mountain. An adventure group had originally created the stairs for the purpose of making a challenging course but it must have realized mutual benefit for Grouse Mountain because they had taken on helping maintain the course. FYI – these are not cement steps but from what I saw in the cable car, well-kept steps of dirt reinforced by wood and rocks. There is a website that can be Googled for anyone so inclined. Several people rode down on a cable car with me who had obviously just completed a hike up the hill.

Vancouver Stadium
Vancouver Stadium

This shot of the Vancouver Stadium is from a little aquabus I took from Granville Island to Yaletown, a closer point from which to walk back to where I was staying.¬†I really enjoyed the methods of transportation available in the Pacific Northwest. It was so easy to get around cities, or between cities in an efficient, affordable fashion sans car. Roz doesn’t even own a car and I can see with such amazing infrastructure, why would you?!?

My next post will map my coming course of travel. Stay tuned!

Sail Making by Hasse and Company

 

A view of Port Townsend from the pier.
A view of Port Townsend from the pier.

My trip to Port Townsend would not have been complete without a trip to the sail loft where Bonnie has been apprenticing since March. Those who don’t know her can better appreciate her path to sail making since she has worked on several tall ships. She initially worked with the Hindu (based in Key West, FL) and I believe her last ship was Lynx, based out of Newport Beach, CA. Landing in Port Townsend, Washington was a series of chance happenings and who-knows-whos and she’s enjoying the town and learning her new trade.

I accompanied her on her daily walk  to work that morning from her cute little house. She declined a speedy trip in my rented car. She said she prefers to walk since that is about the only exercise she manages to get right now.

The walk took us along a ridge above the town and bay. We passed a number of houses, some of them victorian and painted with colors that highlight their details but you know they would be fussy to do (I think they call these painted ladies). Most of the houses we passed had yards that had pride of ownership written all over them.

This is the view of the ferry port from the street that runs along  the ridge.
This is the view of the ferry port from the street that runs along the ridge.

The street descends into town and takes you past several blocks of the cute architecture I mentioned in my last post. Once we were at the port Bonnie steered me toward her favorite coffee shop, Velocity Coffee where I could grab some breakfast. She continued on to work (essentially across a parking lot).

The coffee shop was attached to a store that carried a variety of items that make sense to sailors. There were bins of brass hardware, books, foul weather clothing, cards and gift items and hanging from the ceiling were two very beautiful wooden kayaks with labels that explained they had been made as a community project. The wooden ship connection to Port Townsend suggests that wood artisans may gravitate to the town. I noticed this tiny shed of a gallery that flowed it’s wood creativity right out onto it’s shingles:

image

image

I arranged to meet Bonnie at the end of the day for my tour. I had some initial confusion as there are two tenants in this building, one being a canvas company. The canvas company door is directly off the parking lot so I assumed this was the entrance. Canvas and sail making also sound interchangeable to a sailor neophyte like me so I was on the verge of going into the wrong place. I learned later that the canvas company did serve boaters, but they made items like cushions as opposed to sails. Luckily, a discussion with someone in the coffee shop had reinforced the name “Hasse”. I chose to investigate a bit more and found the Hasse entrance on the opposite side.

The Hasse sail loft is on the second floor of a long building facing the small Point Hudson Marina. The space feels a bit like a narrow gymnasium with varnished wooden floors, long windows along each wall and a very open concept.

The main sewing room  and 'working floor space' of the sail loft.
The main sewing room and ‘working floor space’ of the sail loft.

When I arrived, it was end of the day on a Friday and one of the sewing machines was getting a good cleaning & oiling. I was told this was regularly scheduled maintenance but if they happened to miss a week or two it wasn’t serious. One of the very experienced sail makers was preparing to smudge one of the machines as it had been ‘acting up’. For those that aren’t familiar with this treatment, smudging is the ritual of burning a bundle of dried herbs (often sage) as a method of cleansing. The bundle is lit at one end, the flame is put out and then the smoke from the embers is directed around whatever needs to be cleansed. This ritual is borrowed from Native American ceremonies.

One of the sail makers smudges a temperamental sewing machine.
One of the sail makers smudges a temperamental sewing machine.

Each sail maker has a designated stool for their work. Bonnie said sail making is quite physically taxing so anything that can help to provide leverage, protection, or just ease the process is welcomed. However, it seems no one has figured out how to overcome the crouched, bent-over position one assumes for much of the day.

Sail makers' benches.
Sail makers’ benches.

The sail maker’s palm is a leather strap that fits the hand like brass knuckles. In the center of the palm is a metal disc sewn into the leather strap which provides protection and a hard surface with which to help force the needle through the fabric. Anyone who has tried sewing leather or multiple layers of fabric with an inappropriate needle will recognize the value of this tool!

Sail maker's palm for sewing with needle and thead.
Sail maker’s palm for sewing with needle and thread.

This unusual tool which looks like a soldering iron connected to a vacuum hose had copies of itself hung throughout the sail loft. The vacuum was a centralized system so all the “guns” were attached to hoses strung about the ceiling and they dangled down within easy reach.

A heat gun that melts and seals nylon edges.
A heat gun that melts and seals nylon edges.

Some of you may have already made the leap of understanding as to the marriage of the soldering iron and a vacuum. If I say this is used for sealing nylon edges, perhaps it becomes clearer. It seems the vacuum attachment was a way around needing to use a fume hood. Rather than trying to carry whatever you are working on (which may be large) to a site with a fume hood, this creation was designed to suck up the nylon fumes while you remain in place.

I was not initially aware of the centralization of the vacuum until I noticed other guns with corks in the end of their vacuum nozzles. Bonnie explained that the strength of the vacuum is reduced with every nozzle that remains open. If no corks were in the other nozzles, there wouldn’t be enough suction for it to be of any use.

 

Corked vacuum nylon cauterizing gun.
Corked vacuum nylon cauterizing gun.

Many people who sew have experienced insufficient space to lay out their fabric. It takes little imagination then to realize the difficulties that may be present trying to work on sails. I caught the tail end of the procession of sail makers carrying this rolled up sail into the next room on video but I can’t seem to get it to upload correctly. Instead, here is Bonnie posing next to the sail in it’s temporary storage place on this cutting table. What you may not see here is that this l-o-o-o-o-o-ng table looks pretty much like a huge air hockey table. The top appears as a plexi-type material that is perforated ¬†throughout the entire surface. Rather than blowing air like an air hockey table, this unit creates a suction that pulls the fabric flat.

This long table is perforated with holes and can 'suck' the fabric to keep it flat.
This long table is perforated with holes and can ‘suck’ the fabric to keep it flat.

This room also had a pull-up bar. My initial thought was that it was used to drape fabric or hold things off the floor. Nope. It was a pull-up bar. Bonnie decided to try a few herself and then offered me the option. Ha ha.

Hasse Sails are a desired product as evidenced by their 1-year waiting list for new sails. I was told that some minor repairs can happen fairly quickly but the rule of thumb is that you will be on a waiting list of some kind no matter what you plan to have done. Hasse sail makers do create a few other items like totes out of sail cloth, ditty bags (can be in different sizes) and I was also told they do custom peace flags (I think you really have to know someone to accomplish this request).

I wanted to wrap up this post with this sign I saw in the sail loft. I had a brief discussion with one of the other sail makers about it. Anyone who has learned to sew from their mother can relate to that sentimentality of having Mom there to answer any ¬†questions. It reads: “Sewing Problems? We share ideas and help with each problem. It is just like Mom is right there helping you!”

The Mom sign.
The Mom sign.