Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Summer Postcard...


Hello everyone!. Sorry for the absence. I checked out for a bit. We did a trip to Italy for my husband's 50th and then met his family in Switzerland where we shared a house. My sons have been home and we have been enjoying a lot of lazy days without schedule and to be honest it's been very nice. I have been trying to be away from the computer and social media and enjoy an old fashioned summer. Thanks to that I have enjoyed three books and am working on another.

 Life has been a bit of a blur and as much as I like things like Facebook and Instagram, I just realized how much time daily is given up to such things. Books stacked on my bedside weren't going to read themselves if I didn't find some way to do less yet more meaningful things. This summer I tried to eat more ice cream, sit in the yard more and watch the birds, garden, hang with friends and generally be  in the moment.

 A hot day in Rome in the Monti area with my sons.

Being in Italy and Switzerland, you notice how adept Europeans are at savoring summer, the good weather and being out during the warm months. Walking through the narrow streets of the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome, I loved seeing people migrate to the street with their chairs, a glass of wine, a bit of food and sometimes a dog. They chatted with their neighbors or sometimes just sat and took in the warm night. A roaming string group moved throughout the neighborhood playing Mozart and people  meandered through on bikes. It made me feel envious that they really get what it means to enjoy life.

Here in California, with beautiful weather more days than not, it is rare to see people coming outside to socialize with their neighbors in the evenings. I have read in societies where this is common, people have the longest life expectancies. It makes sense. It has to be good for the heart and the soul.


While we are talking about good for the heart, I have to tell you about the Berner-Oberland, where I stayed in Switzerland. This area is nestled in the heart of the Alps, surrounded by mountains and lovely lakes. There are no cars and the only way to get around is via gondolas, trams and cog-wheeled trains. We stayed in the charming town of Wengen, which is just lovely and has a charming village with wonderful restaurants and shops and is surrounded by little farms and Swiss homes.

We walked everywhere and most days did over 20,000 steps- most uphill and at high altitudes. Our Air B&B was a walk up a small, steep hill and I struggled too get up there at the end of a the day, but by the end of the week, it became much easier. I slept like a baby each night wrapped up in my down comforter with the sound of faint bells from the nearby goat farm. My husband and I swore we had never seen so many older fit people in our lives. They walked those hills with ease and clearly the diet of Alp cheese, sausages and local beer wasn't hurting them too much.

A walk in the Berner-Oberland above and below.

In later posts, I'll share all the details about Italy and Switzerland in case you plan to go. Both are wonderful yet so different. In fact packing was my biggest challenge on this vacation as I brought one carry-on size suitcase. Resort clothes were on my mind when I packed for Italy as we spent most of the time in Positano and Sorrento. Rome however requires a little more city dressing and of course Switzerland requires mountain clothes. That means clothes to hike in and layers. I brought a rain jacket and a ultra light puffer coat (i never travel anywhere without it), but still ended up cold. Fortunately I found a Benetton store in Grindelwald and was able to get a pair of black leggings to sleep in and to wear under jeans on the 40 degree evenings and to the Jungfrau. I never thought I could be so cold in JULY! (What a Californian.)

Griffin with family friend Bill on one of our hikes and the Jungfrau glacier below.

 You can walk out on this glacier to a hut.

In the darling town of Gimmelwald.

Our last day of Switzerland we had warm weather and explored the beautiful city of Zurich. I loved it and wow talk about stylish people! It truly gives Paris a run for the money, but in a more understated way. In Zurich people dress immaculately, but are not showy. They are turned out with very simple jackets, trenches and pretty tailored pants and cool shoes. Most had a bright tote or backpack, but nothing overtly logo-ed or designer, just quality pieces. These people looked amazing and the Swiss are beautifully groomed- men and women.


One trend that was very big in Europe was the Birkenstock! Europeans are obsessed with them. My friend Jeanne told me all the Italians had then last year, especially the silver, gold or white versions. I saw the same in Italy and all over Switzerland. However, one difference is the way they wear them- it's usually with a tailored sundress, so the look is a little casual dressy. No jean cut-offs to be seen and it looks great.

When I got home I pulled out my old Michael Kor's version of Birks and have been wearing them with my simplest black sundress and feeling cool. :D

Now we are off to St Louis for a wedding, so I hope I'll have more from there to share too. If anyone has tips for that area, I'd love to hear them. I know we are going to the arch and I am excited for this wedding!

Hope you are enjoying summer and the simple things.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Is On!

Fall may seem months away, but I'm thinking about it this week as Nordstrom's famous Anniversary Sale's Early Access has begun for Nordstrom cardholders. The public sale begins July 21st and runs through August 6th. I was able to peruse the early catalog and on my radar are these Frame Jeans, the Rag & Bone Wesley grey suede booties, this Mackage moto jacket.  I'm always into buying one investment piece to add to my wardrobe during this sale. In past years I've bought a Burberry coat, new jeans, and many nice pairs of boots- all of which I still love!

It's always good to peruse the sale before all the best things are gone.

For access the sale now, you need to have a Nordstrom card which you can register for on the Nordstrom site. The sale items will be available to non-account holders as well in a week.


Friday, June 9, 2017

Good Finds- Summer Edition

Happy Friday! We are having some crazy weather here in California. It's raining in June! I'm loving it, but I feel for all the graduates today and the end of year picnics that were planned. I honestly can count on one hand all the times it rained in summer as a lifelong Californian. I remember one time my mom let us run outside in our bathing suits during a July rain. This is very unusual though for us and reminds me of the summer of 1973 when I spent time in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin with my favorite auntie and cousins. 

So after the last post about less shopping, here I am talking about shopping again! However these are ideas for summer events and gifts one might need to get. Everyone seems to be in the summer mood here already. Many friends have already taken off on vacations while others are hosting grad parties. or invited to them. There are a few good things I stumbled across in the last week or so I thought I'd share...

Cost Plus is hitting it out of the park nowadays with so much of their merchandise. I went for potato chips (I didn't need those either), and came home with two blouses, a scarf and some other goodies.
 I cannot resist a feminine cotton blouse for summer, and I find them much more flattering and cool than any t-shirt. I've been coveting the whole Chloe collection, but unless I come into some money, I won't be spending that kind of money on a summer blouse, so enter Cost Plus!

The racks of pretty cover-ups, caftans and blouses had me as soon as I walked into my local store.  I zeroed in on the white blouses and the quality was quite nice. I also found a scarf in aqua and a packable hat for travel. If you cannot get to your local one they have most of the styles online here too.

 Here I am with one of them on. (Look away from the cat beds and terrible carpet please.)

I really like the quality and look of this Lila top. There are also dresses, wraps and ponchos. Most of these are around the $30ish price range which seems fair and adds a bit of Bohemian vibe to the summer closet!

Are you going to any grad parties or summer gatherings? I love these special edition bottles of  Chandon for gifts. Super cute even just to have on your summer bar counter! I think it's only in stores, so grab some before they are out. I bought a few to bring to barbecues.

You can pair a bottle with one of these darling tea towels that are summer-themed...

I bought the popsicle one, but thought these posh pup version, below are adorable too.

Just some of the tea towels at Cost Plus below. Many have that Anthropologie vibe at half or less of the cost. Just saying.. 

I like their new woven placemats and napkins and table linens for summertime. 

If you are giving a gift card or money this season, I love these little raffia wallets from J Crew to tuck them into. I bought a pineapple and a flamingo one for some gift cards. There are also striped ones and colorful leather ones that hook on a bag. 


Are you a house guest at someone's home this summer? The Picnic is a lovely idea for a hostess gift. It's beautifully illustrated and full of great ideas for picnics and makeshift summer feasts. There are games, recipes and cool things to try plus the book is just so pretty and makes me dream about picnics, which is almost as good as the real thing. It would also make a sweet engagement present.

Love this book!!

We are fortunate to be invited to two weddings this year and the wedding gift can be tricky. However, my new favorite store Hudson Grace in Palo Alto at Town & Country Shopping Center is just the place to go for this. They sell the most basic and beautiful housewares and also a few luxuries. I bought one of their perfect white round bowls, which I am using for salads and everything. I'm obsessed with it.

 I like to keep it on the counter with citrus or other fruits.

I also am in love with their Tart Kumquat dish soap which smells divine.

Hudson Grace was started by two friends. He was in design at Gap and she for Williams-Sonoma. Their collection is the practical yet beautiful pieces you want in your home- gorgeous white dishes and serveware, luxe linen napkins, big wooden bowls, beeswax candles and rustic serving planks. It's just what you would imagine a California home to have -unfussy modern things. It's a great store to choose a wedding gift. I'd love to collect these well designed pieces like this and purge the rest of the jumble I own someday.


There are other Hudson Grace stores in Montecito, Marin, San Francisco and Brentwood. You can read more about the founders, Monelle Totah and Gary McNatton and their own homes and style here.

Happy weekend to you all!


Friday, June 2, 2017

Classic Style- Hand It Down, Dress It Up, Wear it Out

I often think there are too many choices in life today  Life hasn't been made better, but just messier. We struggle to for quality, but the quantity of life, and an abundance of things, like clothes, often prevent us from living the life we want. Classic Style by Kate Schelter is a guide to life as well as style and aims to set us straight in a world filled with too much spending, shopping and indecision. The author's reverence for simplicity in our closets and regard for what is old, beat, handed down, thrifted, found and treasured is something I personally love.

Kate Schelter is an artist and has had spins as a Vogue photographer, celebrity stylist, and a brand consultant. This book is her little guide to life and it had me at the sub-title: 'Hand it down, Dress it up, Wear it out.' That is all I believe in a nutshell about clothes, style and spending!

Kate shows us the current culture's obsession with new, shopping as a hobby and continuous consumption does not translate into style, but rather a messy life and wasted money. A beautiful life isn't something you get with a credit card, but curated over time. Kate helps us appreciate the greatest hits from our pasts- like Vans, Vaurnets and Top-siders and as well as family heirlooms. In this view, classics never look old, and when they do wear, they get even cooler. 

Classic Style will have you shopping your closet for past favorites, and coveting hand-me-downs again. Kate is practical as well as chic and reminds one that style cannot be had with the latest, newest and most expensive looks. Chic comes from your personal mix of old and new and sometimes McGyvered clothes. It's all part of what creates real style, something that will not only make you look and feel good, but bring a calm to your life. Cultivate a look, a uniform and stick to it with daily injections of quirkiness and fun via little additions and tweaks.

Kate advocates for less and making firm decisions. Closets overflowing are a distraction from life's more important and wonderful things you could be doing. You should love what you have and wear it all, but have less. Quality items are worth spending on. Treasure those things you have kept and wear them often, wear them out. 

An original watercolor by Kate from her site.

Some of my own closet treasures are hand-me-downs. My grandfather's lime green golf sweater, my mother's 1960's leopard corduroy tote and my father's Coast Guard tunic are all items I wore and treasured over the years. I have a cameo necklace from a grandmother that is an Avon piece from the 1970s. It's not worth anything, but sentimental value, yet it's beautiful and people always remark on it.. My mother's wedding and anniversary rings are stacked on my right finger and keep her in my heart always. My tiny diamond earrings, a five year anniversary present from my husband when we were young, are precious to me and will always be my preferred, over my larger and more expensive ones. These kind of the things give you a look all your own and tell your story too.

What you add to that mix should be things you find along the way- from your travels, from vintage stores, from happenstance and serendipity. Reading this will retrain your shopping brain.  Reuse, modify, shop your own closet and second-hand stores. The most lovely finds are the items no one else has and already exist. Expensive and new does not equal stylish. 

The best message of this book? Frugality is cool and you already have all that you need.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Celebrating 100 Years - My Grandma Jody

May 24 was the 100th birthday of my precious grandma Jody! After a week of celebrating with family and friends, she's about over it, but I am still thrilled that she made it to this milestone. Everyone always asks about her, so I thought I'd share some pictures here and also a little bit about her long life.

It still amazes me that she was born when most people still used horse and buggy. She has seen so much- the beginning all modern innovations happened during her lifetime- the car, the phone, television, radio, refrigeration, the computer and much more. She remembers them all. She even has recollections of sitting on her front porch when they heard Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic from New York to Paris in 1927!

Josephine Mary Eaton Fleming was born in Walla Walla, Washington in 1917. Her childhood was spent in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, where her father was a cement contractor and built the town pool, where she learned her love of swimming. Sadly, the depression hit and the cement jobs went away. To make ends meet, her father Cody and mother Edith joined other family members as migrant fruit packers all up and down the West Coast. They would travel from Washington where they'd pack apples and pears, to the Bay Area with it's abundant apricots, down to the Inland Empire, where they'd pack iceberg lettuce. Grandmother went to high schools in Oregon, San Jose and El Centro, California. It was a hard life, though quite lucrative for the depression. They only owned what could fit in a car and rented the same homes each year as they traveled the fruit circuit. 

 Grandma's yearbook. She's the middle left and in the group photo, third row down, second from right.

One stabilizing factor and bright light in her life was her own grandmother, Mary Eaton, her father's mother. She lived on Lake Chelan, Washington and doted on Josie, as she like to call her. She attended some high school in Lake Chelan and spent many hours swimming on the lake, sneaking into boat houses, and learning to sew from her grandmother. 

She also learned a lifetime of good eating habits from her grandmother as her grandfather was a diabetic who was diagnosed before insulin was invented. Healthy foods and grains were something she used even back then to keep her husband healthy. They grew their own vegetables, canned and ate from the giant sauerkraut barrel that was in the yard.  Her grandma would put a hot water bottle in her bed on nights when it was cold, and she treated her to little things like her favorite jars of Pimento Cheese spread, when no money was to be had for extras like that.

Grandma right with her mother Edith and my dad, Ray. Isn't this coat chic?

One of my favorite photos of my grandparents on a swing in the 1940s.

Grandma married my grandfather Ray in 1937, when she was 20, the same year the Golden Gate Bridge opened. He like so many in this area, was in the fruit business, having his own market stand and was later in sales in the orange juice industry which brought them to Fullerton in Southern California. They lived for a time in a cute Spanish Mediterranean home where my dad, Ray Jr, remembers going to school barefoot on warm days (no one made sandals for children in the early 1940s), and watching Disneyland get built in nearby Anaheim. They moved back to San Jose just before it opened and he never got to go.

I love my Grandma and Aunt Wendy's Easter bonnets here around 1950.

A family road trip to Yellowstone around 1955-56. Grandmother always wore dresses and never wore pants until the mid 1970s. I remember the exact day she came over in a pantsuit. It was a big deal!