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Homemade Pretzels

I haven't made homemade pretzels since we were in Alabama and I had forgotten how easy they are if not a little time consuming. I made these last week for Oscar night. They keep a long time in an airtight container. 1   (.25 ounce) package   active dry yeast 1 tablespoons   brown sugar 1  teaspoons   salt 1 ½   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 3   cups   all-purpose flour 1   cup   bread flour 2   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 2   tablespoons   baking soda 1-2   tablespoons   butter, melted 2   tablespoons  kosher salt Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Place the yeast, brown sugar and salt in the 1.5 cups of warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in the flour. Knead for about 7-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and cover. Let it rise for an hour (I place mine in the oven with the light on). Combine the two cups of warm water with the baking soda in a square shallow pan. After the dough has risen, cut it into 12 equal pieces.  Roll each section into a

California pt. 5 - Santa Monica and Malibu

Sunday was warm and sunny with warmer temperatures predicted in Los Angeles. It is noticeably cooler, however, along the coast and Santa Monica was pleasantly comfortable. Our first stop was the Santa Monica Pier.

The 1600 ft. long pier was first built in 1909 for the city's sanitation needs but it was so popular with local fisherman as well as tourists that it soon became a popular destination. An amusement park was added a few years later as well as arcades, cafes, gift shops and even a grand ballroom.

In 1983, a hurricane destroyed one third of the pier and the town rallied to form a task force to rebuild. By 1990, the pier had been restored. Today, the pier attracts over 4 million visitors annually.

Artists (both performance and artistic) dot the pier offering to sketch your portrait or just entertain you. Several cafes offer hamburgers and corn dogs. The amusement park was closed for a Special Olympics group.

We had so much fun on the Hollywood homes tour that we scheduled another tour for the Malibu Stars Homes. We almost missed our bus, but they waited for us (it could be because there were only two other people on the bus). We left the pier and drove along the Santa Monica coast toward the Pacific Coast highway. Our tour guide said that many stars like in Santa Monica.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has a penthouse overlooking the pier and boulevard.

Jamie Lee Curtis

Robert Downey Jr. lives on the top floor and Stevie Nicks lives a few apartments behind his.

Shortly after swinging onto the Pacific Coast Highway, the "Malibu" sign welcomes us-

I have to confess that Malibu was not as pretty as I expected it to be. The traffic was horrendous (so glad we did not drive ourselves) and the area was very congested. On one side was a long stretch of beach homes and this is where the majority of the stars home were (that we saw). On the other side was an ugly hillside dotted with mansions as well as businesses. There wasn't enough foliage for me!

As for the star homes we saw, basically we were seeing the backs of them, so it wasn't really that spectacular. Again, I cannot verify if these actually belong to this people but we were told that by the tour guide.

Barry Manilow

Ryan O'Neal (Farrah Fawcett left him this house) 

Jennifer Aniston (yes again, doesn't this woman have enough houses?) 

Courtney Cox and David Arquette
Paris Hilton

Adam Sandler
And WHAT in tarnation is this?? Believe it or not, scattered among the mega-million homes were places like this. This looks like redneck Alabama! The tour guide said that homes like this actually rent for thousands per week just because of the location. Now this is just crazy!

We stopped and took a stroll down to the beach. Now, Alabama has California beat here - the beaches are must prettier on the Gulf Coast. We have all that white san. It was a muddy color in Malibu. The beach was also very narrow. There is just a few feet between the waves and the houses.

This is Cher's former Malibu home. I've seen it in Architectural Digest and it is spectacular. Finally, some landscaping! It is currently for sale. The tour guide said it was 18 million.

Another stop for more views of the Pacific -

On the way back, I had a better view of the fine homes on the cliff side -

I love this house.

Back in Santa Monica, we did some shopping and sight seeing in the Promenade and had dinner at a wonderful seafood restaurant in Malibu -

I hope you enjoyed my recount and photos of the trip!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver,

Dirt Therapy


  1. Love Santa Monica! We like to go in january to escape the winter here. I'll have to read up on your previous posts.

  2. Wow, you found all these famous people's houses. Neat.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed the photos of your adventure in CA. Thanks so much for sharing them. You sure packed a lot into the few days you were out there.

  4. I luv that old Spanish villa. That is beautiful. Thanks for the tour......Julian

  5. Yes I did enjoy riding behind you on the tour bus, thank you!

  6. I've never been and now I have to go~Just to see that blue sky! Phillip this was a really delightful tour~I'm glad you both had such a good time! gail

  7. Phillip! I have so enjoyed these posts about your trip! I can't believe you got to hold Jennifer Jones' oscar. I'm so happy for you. Rebecca

  8. Lovely, thanks. What spectacular vistas of the ocean.

  9. Wow what an awesome trip. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. I love seeing where the stars live. Most of those homes are so unusual looking and the lack of foliage

  10. I've enjoyed the tour! But really, for the price, I would prefer Mountain Brook! You are so right that our white sand beaches are more beautiful, but, on the other hand, we don't have the spectacular rock formations that give the California coast such character.


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