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Saturday, January 07, 2006

L.A. and environs



For those of you that live in L.A., or are at least familiar with it, BT and I live in one of the "environs" of Los Angeles, as the AAA magazine Westways continues to call us. Looking up "environs," it means "the country, the flat agricultural surround." Obviously this term no longer applies to the 88 urban jurisdictions that surround the City of Los Angeles proper. These cities are all part of L.A., but try so hard to be recognized by their own merits. Long Beach has an additional identity issue - the city is part of Los Angeles County, but for some reason everyone likes to pretend we are part of neighboring Orange County (yes, the "O.C.") to the south. I can't quite figure that one out.

Long Beach is the 5th largest city in California, and has a lot to offer, but not everything. We do not have a mall, for example. Of course, we have large shopping centers (your Walmart-Best Buy-Staples-Michaels combo), and there are several "real" malls in neighboring cities that are within a few minutes drive. Some things, however, we cannot find in Long Beach or close by. BT and I compile a list of all the "L.A." things we want to do, and when the list is long enough, go on an expedition.
Usually driving, but sometimes by light rail or bus (contrary to popular belief, there is public transportation in Los Angeles).

I guess I should mention when we first met, I lived and worked in "West L.A." (the Culver City/Santa Monica/Beverly Hills area) - BT lived in the O.C. (the real O.C.) When we were dating "long-distance", we loved to explore L.A. together, and find new places to eat and hang out. So, some of the L.A. things we like to do now are reminiscent of old times, and some are just to take advantage of the giant metropolis we live in that has everything you want or need, if you just know where to find it (and if you are willing to sit through traffic driving there).

So, here's a run-down of Saturday's expedition:

Stop 1: Lunch at El Rincon Criollo in Culver City. BT and my first date was at the locally famous Versailles (this was before you had to wait an hour+ in line to get a table). Cuban food became a standard date for us after that, but we had to find alternate restaurants around West L.A., as Versailles was too busy. El Rincon was one of the places we found, and is a nice little restaurant with good food.

Stop 2: Cake decorating supplies at Gloria's Cake and Candy Supply. I still haven't found a baking supply store closer to home. I never would have made the trip to Culver City solely for the few items I bought at Gloria's this weekend, but luckily it was on the way to other stops.

Stop 3: Little Osaka. Reading through other craft blogs, a lot of people mention going to Little Tokyo for craft books, tea and mochi. But L.A. has another Japanese area along Sawtelle Boulevard, between Santa Monica and Olympic Boulevards. Admittedly when I lived in West L.A., I only went to this area for the plant nurseries, and I don't recall as many restaurants and businesses there back then as there are now. Saturday BT and I visited both Giant Robot stores for our obligatory vinyl toy purchases and BT's books and mags. We are addicted to those darn vinyl toys. We always think we find the lines that have "all good ones," and take our chances buying one from each line (the boxes are sealed and do not show the contents, so you don't know which toy from the line you bought until you open it). This time we waited until we get back to the car to open them, and both expressed how we got the one toy from the series we didn't want. But, I know we'll buy them again, even if they are silly and serve no purpose. I also stopped at the Asahiya bookstore for craft books, and added one more to the collection

(ISBN4-277-43069)

It says "Part Works Book" on the cover. I'm not sure what the unifying theme is - just using bits and baubles to embellish existing stuff, I think.

Stop 4: ESPN Radio. If there had been tickets to something waiting for us, we would have been here sooner (BT told the person we met with that, hoping to score some tickets instead of what he really won), but instead we picked up the classic Coleco handheld games BT won back in November (I guess to replace the ones he just threw away a few months before that to reduce clutter? Why did he even call in just to win the same games? Men are so strange sometimes...)

Stop 5: Little Tokyo. So, perhaps Little Osaka has better restaurants and is not as touristy, but Little Tokyo has the great 98 cent junk stores, and I've had a book on hold at Kinokuniya forever. Here are three more new craft books

(ISBN4-529-03898-X)

Tiny Patchworks - Sweet little goods and sewing accessories

(ISBN4-8347-2354-2)

This is a book for carving and applying rubber stamps. They even apply the stamps to glass, and heat set them in the microwave. Carving stamps is kind of not necessary now that I have the Gocco, but I guess it would still be fun to try my hand at carving a design as precisely as the ones shown in the book. And the images are so darn cute they would make you want to SCREAM if you saw them (I almost screamed, but I didn't want to offend any of the polite Japanese shoppers around me). It's hardly a copyright infringement if you want to carve the rice bowl stamp shown on the book's cover, for example, as no two carved images would turn out the same, right?

(ISBN4-8347-2329-1)

We love puppets. Yes we do!

I didn't get that much at the 98 cent stores - I go every three months or so, and not that much changes. Some stuff I bought this weekend was for gifts, or will show up in future blog entries, but here is one thing I wanted to show you



They are little squeezee bottles for soy sauce and the like that you would pack in a lunch! Some are plain bottles, and some are fish-shaped. I thought they were really cute, and imagine they will come in handy for other applications other than just soy sauce.

We had all good intentions of eating dinner at another old L.A. haunt, but we weren't all that hungry, and felt pretty tired (darnit to getting old!!) On the way home, the new "L.A." list was started when we saw banners for this art exhibit. We may live in the environs, but we can't survive without the City.

1 comment:

Janaina said...

Hi!
am Janaina, from Brasil, and got your blog in a search for Japanese carving rubber stamps books. Your posting just popedout in the screen. =)
I am trying start my tryings about this craft but I live in a really tiny town.I would like to know if you could point me any online bookstore where I can find this edition or some other in the same style.
I thank you very much for any help on this.
Hugs!