The Hoppy Okapi

Occasional posts about hiking and other stuff

Christmas Christmas Time is Near December 15, 2008

Time for Toys and Time for Cheer!

We got our Christmas tree just over a week ago – we’ve been away from home for the past few Christmases, so it’s been three or four years since we last put up a tree. We had some concerns about the kittens attacking the tree this year, so we got a small one and decorated it with only non-fragile ornaments. It was fun (and a little overwhelming!) to get all of our Christmas decorations out of storage and go through them to pick the ornaments for the tree. We struck a good bargain though – I decorated the tree, and Chuck packed up the ornament boxes back and took them back down to storage!

our Christmas tree with its purple lights

our Christmas tree with its purple lights

We have a fun mix of our childhood ornaments and newer ones, but the most fun thing for me was finding all of my Madeline ornaments – I have five different kinds! They’re mostly visible (if kind of small) in this picture:

Christmas tree - how many Madelines do you see?

Christmas tree - how many Madelines do you see?

Trying to keep the kitties out of the tree has been challenging! Most of the time they don’t mean to attack it, but it’s a convenient hiding place to attack each other from, and so we hear the bell on the bottom branches ring a lot when they’re feeling playful. Other times though, their curiosity gets the best of them, and so every evening I do an ornament check to see if they’ve knocked anything down. Last week a Madeline took a dive:


Poor Madeline and Genevieve!

I’m happy to report that Madeline and Genevieve were unharmed in their fall! Unfortunately I think the kitties are becoming immue to the squirt-of-water deterrent method – they keep going back to the tree no matter how many squirts they get!

This weekend I had a Christmas cookie baking party, where we listened to The Oak Ridge Boys Christmas and When My Heart Finds Christmas, and made some old favorites:

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies:

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cookies

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cookies

And Buttermilk Sugar Cookies:

Colorful Sugar Cookies

Colorful Sugar Cookies

They’re not the most stylishly decorated cookies, but they do have bright colors and sprinkles. Plus I added some crushed candy canes to the white frosting to turn it into peppermint frosting – it was the hit of the evening!

Merry Christmas!


May Concert Wrap-Up June 2, 2008

Filed under: concerts,San Diego — Amanda @ 22:03
Tags: , , , ,

So many shows to blog about, so little time! A few highlights from May, before I forget about them entirely:

We started and ended the month with “surprise” shows. The first, I learned about by chance the day before the concert, and I’m so glad I did. We saw Po’ Girl at the same church near Adams Avenue where we saw Gregory Page during Roots Fest. I first discovered Po’ Girl at Hear Music in Santa Monica last year, where I bought their “Home To You” CD because it reminded me of the Be Good Tanyas (1st place on my Desert Islands Discs), without realizing that one of the contributors to the album actually WAS from the Be Good Tanyas (I am perceptive, sometimes). So through random browsing of events on, I found out about the Po’ Girl concert. It was presented by Acoustic Music San Diego, a wonderful group that presents concerts several concerts a month and sells some of the best chocolate chip cookies ever made (big, buttery, crispy but not too-hard, seriously good, homemade chocolate chip cookies!); I had no idea that the group or the concert series existed before the fortuitous Po’ Girl discovery, but I’ll definitely be going back!

This was another one of those extremely intimate concerts that I absolutely love. We were seated in the third row of the church, and there were probably 40 or so people total for the event…I actually feel kind of sorry for every single person in San Diego who was not there, because it was an amazing show. I like “Home to You”, but it pales in comparison to seeing the ladies perform live – they were so talented, gracious, funny, and beautiful, I was completely entranced by them. Among the many instruments played throughout the evening, Allison Russell played the clarinet, and it was the first time EVER that I was sad to have quit clarinet lessons in the 5th grade. Also, Awna Teixeira somewhat reluctantly broke out the glockenspiel for one song, and was so utterly brilliant on the accordion that I may postpone my theoretical harp lessons to play gypsy music on the accordion instead.

Next up on our whirlwind May wrap-up: Jesse Cook, performing at Humphrey’s By the Bay. It was our first ever trip to Humphrey’s, and it was a very different experience from the small acoustic shows and bar stages that we’ve been frequenting. Humphrey’s is an outdoor venue, with three sections of seating in front of the stage, with one side open to the bay where those with boats can motor over for some free entertainment. The atmosphere was kind of a bizarre mix of high-society meetup and Hawaiian luau vacation resort craziness. The last time we saw Jesse Cook (opening for Diana Krall in Santa Barbara, maybe eight years ago?), there was just him and his guitar, playing beautiful flamenco melodies. I have not been following him in the meantime, and was pleasantly surprised to see him on the Humphrey’s schedule, and even more surprised to see how his career has apparently exploded since we saw him last. The music was AMPED, with more of a world-beat feel, Latin and maybe African rhythms mixed in with the flamenco influences. Mr Cook was joined onstage by another guitar player, a bassist, a wild-haired and generally fun violinist, and a fantastic drum player, and they had a great time playing together and making great music together. There were quite a few hard-core fans in the audience, and much dancing in the aisles at the end of the show.

We ended May with yet another show at Humphrey’s. I found out on Friday that I’d won tickets to see Craig Ferguson that night, thanks to San Diego City Beat. I’d submitted an online entry several weeks earlier, and not even realized that the show hadn’t taken place yet, so the tickets were a fantastic surprise! We used to watch Craig on the Drew Carey show, and were fans of the movie Saving Grace, and I’m happy to report that his live routine did not disappoint. Live comedy is always a bit of a grab bag for me – sometimes it seems like the comics just try to say random, offensive things and hope someone in the audience is drunk enough to laugh – but Craig Ferguson was excellent from start to finish, creating humor from personal narrative and a well-honed sense of the ridiculous, with only a few cringe-worthy moments (and most of those were still funny).


Road Trip! May 7, 2008

So much fun, so little time to blog about it! I have about two weeks of blogging to catch up on, but I’ll start with the most recent and work backwards…

Sunday afternoon, we made a quick trip to Santa Monica, as we do every few months, in pursuit of must-see live music. As-yet-unwritten posts to the contrary, sometimes San Diego is passed up by the live music scene and one must venture north to LA. When this happens, tradition is to combine a favorite restaurant of yore and the desired concert in a half-day road trip, as if we’re just casually venturing into the city from 100 miles away. And so, we set off from San Diego at about 2pm Sunday afternoon, caught an uncharacteristic wave of good traffic, and hit destination one at just after 4pm:

Cha Cha Chicken! Glorious bastion of jerk chicken located on at the corner of Pico Blvd and Ocean Ave in Santa Monica. I first visited Cha Cha Chicken while working in Santa Monica about eight years ago, and I take advantage of every possible opportunity to go back. Their jerk sauce is the standard by which I judge all others – including the ones we make ourselves – and the others invariably come up short. My habitual fare here is the enchilada dish, and Chuck’s is the quarter chicken, though we have also tried (and then tried to recreate) the coconut fried chicken. On Sunday I had the jerk combo: one jerk chicken enchilada and one jerk chicken tostada, with rice and beans and plantains, and ginger beer (Jamaican style, imported from Canada, and tasty!). Check out the numiliciousness:

After basking in the sweet and spicy Caribbean goodness, we headed on to the nightcap: the Girlyman concert at McCabe’s Guitar Shop. Girlyman has been one of my favorite bands since the first time I saw them, opening for Dar Williams at the House of Blues in SD a few years ago. I was enthralled by their beautiful harmonies, their on-stage sense of humor, and by how much fun they seemed to be having performing together. There’s something really amazing about finding great new bands by watching a live performance, and when there’s so much fun and love for the music and the performing, it’s practically magical. This is how I became a hardcore fan of Girlyman…well, that PLUS it’s really fun to sing along to their CDs in my car, and try to hit all the high notes along with Doris (I swear I used to be able to hit them all, ummm, in high school…but it’s still fun to try!).

Anyway – the concert on Sunday! We were actually to McCabe’s early enough that we were first in line at the door, so we got to sit in the front row, ultra close to the band. (And also, it turns out that our tickets were numbered one and two, which proves that I am ultra-quick on the draw when it comes to ticket purchasing…granted, I had been waiting for the LA concert to be announced for about three months, but still!) So..first row seats, concert venue that sells chocolate chip cookies (it was the second concert with cookies in four days, and I have decided that’s the best kind of concert, as it implies a certain homey intimacy), and my favoritest band in the universe – all the makings of a brilliant evening! There was no opening act – good, because we got right to the best band ever; bad, because who knows what kind of excellent opening act we may have missed out on; good, because we got to drive home that much earlier and not get too sleepy on the drive home. It was a great show (as were the other two I have been to!), full of fun commentary and great songs. They played Kittery Tide – my favorite Girlyman song – plus Viola, Young James Dean, Through to Sunrise, and many other great songs off their albums, PLUS a couple of new songs and Rock Me Amadeus and Moose in the Road, plus some fun facts about George Washington’s dentures. Good times were had by all!



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