Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Wishing all my friends and family a very happy, positive,  joyful New Year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

...and a Merry Christmas Was Had by All!

Christmas night is here -- time to reflect on what a beautiful December we had this year.  My dad arrived a week ago and my daughters have been in and out, work schedules permitting,   We decorated the Christmas tree -- the light-up angel on top graced our family tree when I was a child.  It's a family heirloom and as children my brother and sisters and I named her "Angela" -- our Christmas angel.

We did all the things that the season is all about -- shopping, wrapping, ordering, making gifts, baking, cooking, sending out Christmas greetings, meeting up with old friends.  We enjoyed the always-awesome Christmas concert that our church holds each year.  We played table games, nibbled on sweets, and laughed out loud watching old favorite movies like Christmas Vacation and Home Alone.  Little surprises were tucked behind the doors of our wooden Advent Calendar for the girls to take turns opening when they were home.  Fires crackled in the fireplace -- my baby cat Scarlett even met Santa Claus.

My birthday was earlier in the week so my dad and I drove up to San Francisco to spend the day with my daughters.  The plan was that we would pick them up at their apartment and then go to Union Square and have lunch at The Cheesecake Factory.  However, when I called Ash to let her know we were almost there she informed us there would be a bit of a detour.  Apparently Lys, who had to work that morning, parked where she often does for work but they were having a special event and put up no parking signs that she didn't notice in her rush to get to work.  When she went to get back in her car after her shift -- it had been towed!   We picked up Ash and then went downtown to pick up Lys and made our way to the police impound yard.  After she paid the $392 to bail her car out (which seems like highway robbery to me!), we were on our way to Union Square.

Downtown San Francisco was set to get us in the holiday spirit!  The stores were decorated to the max and the ice skating rink and huge Christmas tree on Union Square were enticing.  
As always the food at The Cheesecake Factory was delicious and I enjoyed a nice big slice of Ghiradelli Chocolate Cheesecake for my birthday cake!
So despite our little side excursion, my birthday was absolutely wonderful!

A couple of days later the girls were back at my house for Christmas weekend.  Christmas Eve we went to a Candlelight Christmas service at our church -- it was breathtaking!  We all joined in for carol singing and then from one flame, candle by candle we lit our own candles until the church was aglow.  It was a very moving moment and we all sang Silent Night.
Christmas Day dawned and after a leisurely breakfast we opened gifts by the tree. Many oohs and ahhs and heartfelt thanks later, we were back in the kitchen where we made our turkey and trimmings dinner.  All to soon the girls packed up their car and headed back to the city.

How blessed I feel to have the family I have in my life!  Hope you, too, had a merry little Christmas!

For now I say...

   ...and to all a good night!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thanksgiving in The City

It was a first -- Thanksgiving at my daughters' apartment in San Francisco!  And it was wonderful!  From the time I arrived on Wednesday until I sadly drove back home on Saturday, they treated me like a queen and we had so much fun together. 

Lys had to work on Thanksgiving morning so Ash and I threw on some clothes and decided to grace the coffee shop with our presence as well!  On our way to the shop we passed pieces of sheet music papering the sidewalk, so our imaginations went wild envisioning all the reasons why there would be Russian piano music tossed around. 
We were surprised at the number of other people out and about for coffee on Thanksgiving morn.  Then again, what delicious hot cocoa!
In the afternoon we hung out at their apartment and they made a savory turkey dinner. Ash even made a fantastic apple cake for dessert.
Friday morning Lys had to work again (she was earning brownie points so she can get more time off at Christmas^^), so Ash and I decided to get out very early to hit the Black Friday Sales.  We had never gone to the Black Friday Sales before -- the media hype about people clawing their way through the deals and elbowing people into hospital size injuries scared the bejabbers out of us -- but we decided to give it a try this time.  Wow!  It was so very worth it!  Fewer people than we ever encounter by waiting to do our shopping later, we lucked out with close up parking at every store, and with 40% off many items my Christmas budget was stretched further.  It was fabulous!

After meeting Lys around noon back at the apartment, we dressed up and went to A Dickens Christmas at Cow Palace.  What fun to stroll the snowy streets of London, transported back in time to Victorian days. 
To give you an idea of the "streets" we wandered....
The shops sold everything from brooms to parasols to candy and jewelry.
Singers, dancers and merchants were all in full costume, but even many guests got into the spirit and attended in period costume!
It was jolly good fun and I hated to see the weekend come to an end.  Now it's December -- my Christmas cards await my hand this weekend, but the house is decorated.  The girls were here last weekend and we put up our Christmas tree and decorated it with both white and colored lights and all of our favorite ornaments. 

It's the season of warmth and love -- my favorite season of all!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pacific Grove

Ash and Lys came down for the weekend -- usually one or the other comes down about once a month, so it's a real treat when they can both manage to come home for the same weekend!   At night and in the morning, we pad around the house in our pajamas, catching up on their laundry (so much cheaper and more convenient to do a couple loads here than in their apartment laundromat) and watching old favorite TV shows.  I made french toast for breakfast and even had some powdered sugar on hand to sprinkle over the top.  We snuggled under our oh-so-soft throw blankets, comforted by the homey sound of the furnace humming (yes, the nights are getting down into the 40's),  Lame jokes and gossip were exchanged, and before I knew it, they were packing up their car to drive back to the city Sunday evening. 

Ash was busy Saturday night, so Lys and I drove into the cute oceanfront town of Pacific Grove and walked around, then went to see the movie "50/50."  There are some quaint Victorian houses in PG and one of my favorite bookstores, "The Works."

Sunday we went to Cannery Row in Monterey, enjoying brunch at El Torito and picking up chocolate bars at Ghiradelli Chocolates.  The large arched windows overlook the Monterey Bay so an offshore scuba diving lesson kept us entertained while we ate. From there we headed to the shopping center, then to see the movie, "The Rum Diary."  
And on the way home -- a rainbow!
Thanksgiving is just around the corner now and we're looking forward to celebrating it in San Francisco this year.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lovely Day

Following rain showers last week we enjoyed a breathtakingly beautiful Saturday yesterday -- fresh, green, warm and sunny. I have the song "Lovely Day" (Bill Withers) running through my head!   Here is the golf and country club where I met friends for lunch yesterday.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dressing from the Inside Out in Revolutionary Times

Yesterday I attended a district Daughters of the American Revolution program in Cupertino.  Prospective member and new friend Charlene rode up with me and we had a great time, chatting and laughing all the way there and back, but the highlight of our day was the terrific program.  Feather Tippetts (yes, that's her name!) historical costume designer, demonstrated how women back in Revolutionary War times dressed, from the inside out. She makes sure that all of her clothing is historically accurate.  To read more about her work check out this article in the Mercury News.  Here is a little snippet that describes her work:

With a French Milliner as her maternal grandmother it’s hardly surprising that costume design and creation are a passion for Feather. The owner and principal designer of Grand Gestures Historical Costume, she creates garments as historically accurate as possible. Her clients include Impersonators, Re-enactors, and Interpretive Speakers at Historical Sites. Frequently called upon as a speaker and consultant on historical clothing for museums, educational institutions, and private clubs, she also leads workshops on design and construction for students focusing on historical costume.

Beginning with a linen shift, stays filled with reeds are laced on,  These stays provide good posture and make it impossible to slouch. They are different than corsets, which did not come along until later in history.
 Next come the petticoats -- women usually wore two or three of them -- and a white cloth that covers the neck as women wanted to protect their skin from the sun.
Pockets were made, some simple and some decorative, some small and some large, and tied around the waist under the petticoats. Girls sometimes embroidered fancy pockets as gifts for one another.  Petticoats and gowns had slits in the sides so that women could reach into their pockets.   Women used them in the same way we do purses today -- they may hold a fan, a writing utensil, coins, etc.  Now the old nursery rhyme makes more sense as you can imagine walking along and having the ties come undone on your pocket:
Lucy Locket lost her pocket,  Kitty Fisher found it,
Not a penny was there in it, only ribbon round it.
The final flower print petticoat and then the day gown were put on.  The day gown only had a skirt on the sides and back so the petticoat showed in the front.  Therefore, women could change the look of their clothes by wearing a different petticoat as the top petticoat.
Back of day gown.  This is what a woman would wear at home, out shopping, around the village....

Back to basic shift and stays, to begin dressing for a ball.  The first step is to tie on panniers -- these consisted of hoop pockets, created with reeds bent by steam.  All women could sew.  Some women made their own clothes and some had maids that did the sewing.
Next a petticoat was placed over the panniers.  The idea was that the more cloth you could use and display in your gown, the wealthier your husband was, hence the additional width provided by the panniers.
 The top of the gown (with side and back skirt) was put on and laced.
Next a stomacher was selected.  The stomacher was pinned over the chest and upper tummy area.  They didn't use safety pins back then, they used straight pins which were quite pricey.
 A gown top was chosen -- look at the lovely detail:
This was called a transition gown -- the front was the flat 'monobust' look from Britain, but the back was full and of the fashion of France.  The French influence on women's clothing was taking hold.
Taking her final bow with an ostrich feather in her hair.  The history Feather shared was as wonderful as her costume.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Legion of Honor

Yesterday Ash, Lys and I decided to explore a museum in San Francisco that we hadn't been to yet -- The Legion of Honor.  This beautiful example of neoclassical French architecture sets on a hilltop in Lincoln Park with views of the city on one side, the Golden Gate Bridge on another, and the ocean on yet another. We had to park down the road away but enjoyed the scenic walk overlooking the golf course and vistas.

 Majestic horses and riders statues stand guard:
It is such a lovely setting that we saw four different brides and grooms having photos taken here and there in the courtyard.
There was a lovely display of Dutch and Flemish Masterpieces and we all fell in love with these colorful paintings that captured the essence of the people of their time -- with Dutch blood in our veins, our imaginations were captivated with the scenes of everyday life.
 Exquisite detail on some of the furniture made us appreciate the workmanship:
Our day began with lunch at Olive Garden and a little shopping and ended at Starbucks, resting our feet and enjoying one last tidbit of each other's company before I headed home.  I love spending time with my daughters!