Thursday, August 31, 2017

Diana in Pictures -20 Years After Losing Her

Today being the 20th anniversary of Pricess Diana of Wales's death, I wanted to share some of the photos that really express her and the kind of person she was. August 31st is bittersweet for me as it's also my wedding day. Diana died on our first anniversary and I still remember exactly when and where I heard about her accident. We were at a fancy restaurant in San Francisco and people were whispering and talking to each other between tables which you don't often see. Max knew how much I loved Diana and when I asked what was going on he lied and said nothing though he heard. When we left the restaurant it was all over the news about the accident. I just didn't believe it. Neither did Max. It seemed too unbelievably cruel after all she had recently been through. I was crushed even about her divorce. Life seemed so dark and awful to me. 

In July 1981, my mom and I had camped out with sleeping bags in front of the television to wake up at four a.m. and watch her wedding. I was a 14 year old and captivated by it all. It seemed fairly tales did come true even in the modern world.

The outpouring of grief the world over after her death made me realize I was not alone in adoring this woman who radiated love and was so relatable, real and lovable. I was comforted by the knowledge a huge part of the world was grieving with me.

 Over time, I had forgotten a lot about those days and also what she went through. I saved a few of recent the Diana specials and just watched the National Geographic one. I knew it would be soul sucking so I saved it for later one evening and sat through the whole show at once. It is the one with the audio tapes she made to tell her story, which would later be put into Andrew Morton's book. To hear it all again in her own voice really refuted any questions about what happened to her, or at least what her take of it was. 

I was bawling by time I got to the end. It really was wrong that she was totally thrown into this situation as a 19 year old with no help or support. I have an almost 19 year old and it shocks me. She was so young and they took advantage of that. 

Below are some of what I think are the more revealing pictures of the most photographed woman ever. The early photos are some of my favorite, especially those with her William and Harry.

With her pet guinea pig 1970.

  A rarely seen photo with her hair back.

 With her maternal grandmother Ruth Fermoy.

 With her younger brother Charles.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Coolest Kitchens

I know I haven't been blogging as much as I used to and one reason is some time I've been trying to devote to a home remodel we have been planning.  The kitchen part is especially stressing and I tend to overthink everything.

I could make it easy and choose all the traditional things -white cabinets, counters...pedant lights, farm house sink, subway backsplash, etc. I love all of those elements! However, after traveling to Europe and also pouring over of kitchen ideas, I have begun to say why not think out of the box? I don't want trendy, but I want something uniquely mine and kinda cool and something that won't look dated.

One thing I have been avoiding is Pinterest and a few other sites.  The same images or look alike images are shared so many zillions of times and things start to look all the same. The homogenization of Pinterest and somewhat of Instagram, has been a pet peeve of mine. They all look the same...Or variations of the same. It gets really monotonous and I think will look very dated in a short time. Houzz has more variations and ideas, but most adhere to a traditional look or a modern one.

The only solution is to forge your own style and look, so where to get ideas? The MLS is one good spot as real estate listings have such a diversity.  I also find European kitchens more inspiring as they seem to appreciate quirkiness, take more chances and don't care for the model home look as we Americans fawn over.

In that spirit I am sharing some of the more unique kitchens I've been loving and I say you only live once...Take chances and dare to be different.

This is one of my favorite kitchens - Sara Ruffin Costello's home in Saint Louis. Photo is from her website which feature her Garden District home is one of my very favorites.

I love the painted brick backsplash, the mix of modern and traditional and the bright feeling.

Another awesome and unique kitchen I love is this Swedish one...

The home of former model and now designer Malin Persson is a great combination of furniture pieces and modern counters, lighting and tiled walls. How gorgeous is her china cabinet? 

The whole post originally appeared here on Habitually Chic.

I also love the idea of painting a kitchen a color like this one by English designer Ben Pentreath. Ben and his blog are ground zero for that quirky English vibe. If only California wasn't so hot, I could have an AGA stove. I just love their old world look.

If you like this, Ben's blog has more of the parsonage he shares with his husband Charlie in Dorset. I love the way he mixes it all and makes it beautiful.

Some other antidotes to the usual... Yes I love white shaker cabinets and white counters, but it's good to see other options right?

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.