26 July 2009

Our rooftop garden is now an idea of the past. Once all of these tomatoes are harvested we will no longer farm on the roof. Landlord interference.
We had a total of 6 tomato plants + 2 volunteers on the roof this summer.

All photos courtesy of D.

16 July 2009

RIP Julius Shulman 1910 - 2009

Here is an excerpt from the LA Times obituary of legendary photgrapher Julius Shulman who passed away yesterday. In my opinion, Shulman made one of the greatest impacts on Los Angeles architecture and lifestyle (through photography, no less) to date:

Julius Shulman, whose luminous photographs of homes and buildings brought fame to a number of mid-20th century Modernist architects and made him a household name in the architectural world, died Wednesday night. He was 98.

Starting with Richard Neutra in 1936, Shulman's roster of clients read like a who's who of pioneering contemporary architecture: Rudolf M. Schindler, Gregory Ain, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Eames, Raphael S. Soriano, John Lautner, Eero Saarinen, Albert Frey, Pierre Koenig, Harwell Harris and many others. His work was contained in virtually every book published on Modernist architects.

After the Depression, Shulman's studio was one of three in the U.S. to which Arts & Architecture, Architectural Forum and other magazines turned to document the exciting new work being done in architecture. The others were Ezra Stoller's firm in New York and the Hedrich Blessing firm in Chicago.

Shulman's 1960 photograph of Koenig's Case Study House #22 -- a glass-walled, cantilevered structure hovering above the lights of
Los Angeles, became one of the most famous architectural pictures ever taken in the U.S. It was, as architecture critic Paul Goldberger wrote in the New York Times, "one of those singular images that sum up an entire city at a moment in time."

But Shulman's work went well beyond merely taking beautiful pictures of houses and buildings. His mission was to use his photography to build the reputation of the architects who were bringing innovative design to the West. Indeed, his photographs were, by and large, all that most
people would ever see of noted architects' works, many of which were later destroyed.

Shulman's photographs were not without controversy. Some believed he made the structures look too beautiful.

He rearranged furniture to suit his perspective, brought in props and posed models in the frame. Sometimes he used filters or infrared film to make his photos look more dramatic and full of contrast. He also would shoot through cut branches or pots of nursery plants to give the impression that a newly completed home was more fully landscaped.

Shulman was unapologetic about these tactics, saying he wasn't just taking pictures, he was "selling Modernism."

Shulman is survived by a daughter, Judy McKee, and a grandson, Timothy, both of Santa Barbara.

Click here for the complete article.

Accidental Wheat

Donny and I planted some wheat grass seeds in a small pot. I thought it would be cool to make our own wheat grass like at Jamba Juice, but he just thought it would be good decoration. Either way, the wheat grass has grown quickly and plentiful. What we didn't expect is this:

...actual wheat.

13 July 2009

West Los Angeles Subway??

It almost doesn't seem real that I am blogging about a subway in LA that would potentially get me from Venice to Downtown Los Angeles. The rumors of a "Subway to the Sea" have been floating around for the 9 years I've lived in LA and I'm sure they were around decades before that. The biggest rumor of the stalled planning is that Beverly Hills is against having a subway under their quiet little bubble of a city. (see map of the dream route). According to the LA Times, soil samples were collected today as part of a study to begin planning this monstrosity construction. The samples were conducted in not only Hollywood, Century City and Miracle Mile, but also in Beverly Hills.

The proposed transit system would thankfully connect to the existing subways / railways that run through Koreatown, Downtown and up to Pasadena & the Valley.

There is a light rail sytem called the Expo Train that is already in the works by the MTA. Construction began on this project in 2006. Phase 1 would go from Downtown LA to Culver City and is expected to start running by summer 2010, while Phase 2 would expand the route to the Santa Monica beach and wouldn't open until 2015. While this is a huge step for public transportation in LA and an above ground system would increase public conciousness, I believe an underground option is just more effective. The biggest issue people face is the cost and time of being in their cars. I am concerned that the Expo Train could increase traffic and not be quicker.

While writing this post friends have questioned where the line would run and how fast they could get from Point A to Point B. One friend wanted to get from Hollywood to the beach, but most of these potential lines don't have that option, which means making multiple stops or drive & park. That drive/park idea isn't an option if you want to use the train instead of taking a cab on a night out. Another friend who lives in Hollywood and already takes the Metro Downtown said it takes her 45 min. - 1 hr., which is twice the drive time if she took a car. According to the Expo Train website the average trip from Culver City to Downtown (on the Expo Train) will be less than 30 minutes, which is the same as if you were in your car. Of course you always need to take parking & unforseen traffic into consideration as well, depending on where/when you are going. Take a look at some of the renderings I've posted of the potential Expo Train. I have to say, it looks pretty cool!

I appreciate the bike lane additions. They are going past the idea of public transportation and allowing people to have access and safety in all forms of transport.

02 July 2009

Local Pan-Fried Onion Dip Recipe

This Barefoot Contessa onion dip recipe has been a favorite of mine for a while now. I love to serve at parties and it will be a great snack for the 4th of July weekend. I am very excited to make this dish with our homegrown onions. For the next harvest we will probably store the onions or use for tomato sauce and salsa.


  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise


Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.) Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.

Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature. Makes about 2 cups.

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