Saturday, June 18, 2011

La Bodeguita

La Bodeguita restaurant and mini-market squats at the corner of Summit Avenue and Hammond Street.

I was in a bit of a hurry when I drove by the other day, but this photo was not to be resisted. I didn't take the time to go inside.

I found this post about la Bodeguita on Chowhound and it's a rave! Ah, but it's five years old. I say it needs an update.

Have you been to la Bodeguita? What's your review?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Camelot & Grind

Who remembers the Coffee Shop Quest? Anybody?

Awhile back I was on a quest to find my ideal coffee shop. I wanted a place where the music was either non-existent or very much in the background, where the chairs were comfy and the tables were the right height for typing on a laptop, where nobody minded if I sat for a while and where the coffee tasted of miracles.

I'm shocked to realize it's been more than a year and a half since I've quested. But that's about to change because it's time to start writing a new book.

Have I mentioned I finished my novel? I finished my novel. Speaking of miracles.

It's called Camelot & Vine. It's about a failed Hollywood actress who dreams that King Arthur comes and takes her away from it all. Unfortunately for her, he does. It's an adventure of love, time travel and second chances.

(This is not the official announcement. This is the unofficial announcement.)

So, what next? Next I send letters to agents describing my book in pithy terms. And if there's a happy ending to this tale, one or more of those agents will want desperately to represent my book to publishers, publishers will clamor to buy it, it'll get published and one of these days you'll all be reading it. This part, though, is like an actor's audition process: you audition many times, you're rejected many times, and if you keep at it you eventually get to "yes." My novel has already received two rejections from agents, so I figure I'm that much closer to "yes." (Miracles happen.)

Rather than dwell on this it's time to write something else. Which brings me back to the Coffee Shop Quest, because coffee shops are a good place (for me) to create new and miraculous material, as long as the coffee is that good.

Take a look at the Quest link. Do any of those shops need updating on the blog? What spots would you suggest I visit? I'll take you up on your ideas as I can, returning to my quest and seeking out high adventure in a new novel via the coffee shops of the San Gabriel Valley and as always, sharing my results with you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I took a brain vacation yesterday. I couldn't make the thing work anyway, so I didn't have much choice.

Usually I work at my desk. I write stuff, move paper around, organize things and generally make myself look important to myself. But yesterday I could not figure out which paper went into which pile.

Coffee was no help. That brain would not apply itself to the meaningless crap I had to prioritize. So I left everything and went outside.

I repotted a plant. I swept the back porch. I chopped up the rosemary that's been taking over the back yard. (Hey! There's a passage around the side of the garage. I'd forgotten.)

At my desk once again, I moved a piece of paper. It didn't seem to be in the right pile.

So I went out for a cup of coffee. I took a note pad. I wrote things on it while I drank my coffee. It was the most work I got done all day.

It felt strange not to be my usual productive self. As most freelancers will tell you, when you work for yourself you work seven days a week, much more than 9 to 5. A day off is an anomaly. But I guess I needed it. It's a good thing my boss wasn't paying attention.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Guest Author: Cherie Twohy and the I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook

The many talented authors in the Pasadena area have unlimited things to write about. Today we welcome Cherie Mercer Twohy, creator of three cookbooks (so far) based solely on the products at Trader Joe's, a homegrown grocery chain.

I’m delighted to be part of Petrea’s local authors’ series—thanks for inviting me!

I’ve always been a Trader Joe’s groupie. I grew up in Southern CA, as did TJ’s. (I guess you all know that they started in our own Pasadena backyard?) As I became more interested in food and cooking, I found myself cruising the aisles of different TJ stores, as they expanded, first in California, and then across the country. When I got ready to open my own cooking school, Chez Cherie, I decided to see how much interest there might be in classes focused on cooking with Trader Joe’s products. They’ve been so popular and are a ton of fun to teach.

In 2009 I was contacted by a publisher interested in doing a Trader Joe’s cookbook. Since I’d been doing the classes for years, it seemed like a natural next step. The first book came out in November 2009 and so far has sold over 70,000 copies! Yikes—I know my mom didn’t buy all those copies, so there are a ton of TJ fans out there! Since that book’s publication, I’ve heard from so many folks--you can’t imagine what pleasure I get, knowing that people I don’t even know are out there, cooking from my books! I get emails from people who don’t even live near a TJ’s, but remember them fondly, and adapt the recipes to ingredients available near them. I even hear from readers who plan their vacations around TJ locations, so they can stock up. Now that’s dedication! It’s such a kick when gourmet groups and cookbook clubs feature the book, and it’s great fun to hear what they are cooking up.

I literally write the cookbooks on the kitchen table. So easy to dash to the stove or fridge to check a label, adjust a recipe or sneak a taste as I’m writing. I should own stock in 3M, as I go through thousands of Post-its in a week of recipe development. I’m so lucky to have a cheerful test-audience in the TJ cooking classes, so I get quick and personal feedback on what their families have loved. I’d love to hear from you--please let me know your favorites from the books! 

Do you know a published author in the San Gabriel Valley who ought to write a guest post for Pasadena Daily Photo? Are you that author? Contact me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Villa Parke Community Center

The Villa Parke Community Center is close to my house, but I had never been inside the courtyard until I found out there was a library there and they had a book I wanted.

If you haven't been to Villa Parke you're missing this extravagant and surprising fountain created by artist Dora De Larios. I say extravagant because it dominates a relatively small courtyard, and surprising because it's just beyond the doors from the street. Who knew it was there? I would imagine the thousands who use the community center's "social/recreation room, weight room, boxing room, teen facility meeting rooms, senior room, several small meeting rooms, two kitchens, lounge, and a gymnasium with showers and dressing rooms" knew it was there, but I didn't. I did know, however, about the farmers' market on the grounds, Tuesdays from 8:30am to 12:30pm.

The library is small, but the staff is friendly and helpful. They didn't have the book I wanted, but they located it for me at another branch. I got what I came for anyway.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Zen Monday: #150

Zen Monday is the day you experience the photo and give us your thoughts rather than me telling you what the photo's about. Although this one isn't particularly complicated.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Pasadena

I wasn't the only one photographing the birthday balloons. I couldn't resist.

Yesterday, on the grounds of the Pasadena Museum of History and the adjacent Avery Dennison Corporation, Pasadena held a 125th birthday party for itself. There were antique cars, wonderful bands, high-powered super-drummers, food stands, historic photographs, hat making, a children's area, representatives from the police and fire departments, more music and more food. Despite the June gloom, the crowd didn't seem the least bit morose.

Alas, I promised you cake, or at least a photo of it. Actually what I said in Thursday's comments was, "I hope to make it before anybody messes with that cake." The birthday cake, created by the student pastry chefs at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts (about whom we brag at every opportunity) is a depiction of Pasadena's history. Or so I hear.

True to my word, I got there three hours before the cake was scheduled to be messed with, and unfortunately I had to be somewhere else at messing time. But I found the pastry chefs, which is the next best thing to cake.

Okay, not really. Coffee is probably the next best thing to cake. Or the other way around.

I think the chefs had been up since very early. They were applying last-minute sugar-roses and sugar-balloons to their precious cake, which was hidden inside a shadowy tent so I couldn't even sneak a peek, much less a photo. But the chefs were hyped on sugar and coffee amiable, and willing to show me some of what they were working on.

Last year, as well, I met and photographed the chefs. They were a friendly, happy bunch, just as these were.

I ran into Jeannette Bovard, the Museum's Media Consultant, soon after I took this picture. She put forth the theory that when you're always creating festive and delicious works of art, you're bound to be a cheerful person, and of course it's true. Caffeine and sugar come in handy, too.