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On this weekend’s meander..men’s holiday gift ideas, some fresh ideas in Christmas stockings, my new faux tree, a wonderful local floral design studio and more..
Well it’s been a busy week and I kind of hit the ground running this month getting two trees up, which is not the norm for me, but I was in a holiday home tour this week (more below) so I was motivated..unlike my usual procrastinating self! I did manage to make a decision and buy a faux (not fake- per Juliet) Christmas tree.
I had been coming around to the idea as real trees have been getting pricier, less nice, and harder to come by..and I had mentioned before often become a stick in our dry climate here by Christmas..which is worrying. I ended up getting this flocked Fraser Fir tree ( I know also shocking I got white ) at Home Depot. I kind of fell in love with this one as soon as I walked in. It had soft dot lights and some brown and green bits which made it look more natural to me!
I haven’t decorated it.. but I’m trying some of what we have and not use ALL the ornaments and keep it to the ones I really love and the sentimental kid ones.. I also am adding branches and greens to give it a less uniform look..
Let’s talk stockings..
How’s your stocking game? I always like to add one new one each year that catches my eye. We don’t do matched, rather coordinated. I like arty looking stockings (aka socks to my family), and everyone has something different.
Our mudroom right now with a few cute stockings and some greens.. I will add some to the fireplace area later this week.
I had to share a few stockings that I am loving.. these by Marimekko at West Elm are ADORABLE!
I love these mod Jonathan Adler stockings..
Beautiful Holiday Wrap
I recently came across this cute and whimsical shop RubyStripe, on Etsy making darling wrap and tags. This is a small, women owned business and their tags and wrap are next level pretty. The shop says ships from San Jose, so they came up as a local seller for me.. This is just a snippet of their holiday collection. They have so much more if you like handpainted and feminine.
Gifts for the Guys
I know a few people asked for suggestions for the guys, and since men make up most of my family..I have a few ideas for you.
These Ugg slip-ons are a great gift for anyone… and they have outside soles so they can wear them on a coffee run or something too. They come in black also.
This cozy sweater is great for a younger guys. I know my 24 year old son who likes fun sweaters would love it.
I bought all the men in our family these four way stretch 7 Diamond plaids last year. When I felt them at Nordstrom, I knew they’d love them. They are a bit more pricey, so I opted for one of these in place of a sweater. I even got my dad one. They are soft and super stretchy and very warm and come in many colors.. They are their favorite shirts and like outerwear they are so cozy.
I bought my college son this Rumpl Puffy blanket last year that comes with a cool stuff sack. It has extreme warmth and he takes it camping, to tailgates and always has it in his car. A fun idea for anyone who camps or loves the outside. Comes in nine different designs.
This half zip fleece in a fun patterns is also popular with young guys and this is a good price. Especially for the kid who always ‘loses’ his every year! Griffin, I’m talking about you..
This RVCA Crewneck , below in grey, has a classic fit and feels so soft inside and out. I bought one for my dad who likes old school sweatshirt style, but appreciates the warmth. I’m thinking of getting one for the Utah son too.
And this zip up fleece hoodie on right, has a cool pattern both my sons would love.
This sweater by Marine Layer is a bit pricier, but super nicely made and a classic for those ski guys or just like that retro style like my oldest does. This sweater is heavy cotton and so nicely made.
Two years ago I got Max this Ugg robe and he still loves it!
The other thing the boys always want is socks… like this 3 pack from UGG are so, so soft…and these Bombas sport socks hug your arches and you never want to wear any others for sports once you have a pair.
Lastly..This Hatch alarm clock/sound machine/reading light was a hit last year, so I am including it again. A great gift for anyone -and for those who want the phone out of the bedroom.
I just bought this for my sons.. Joshua Weisman’s, An Unapologetic Cookbook, is supposed to help you find your cooking intuition. The recipes were absolutely delicious looking dishes my guys would want to eat and could make.
I got these packing cubes for both the guys as they are traveling more now and a good price for a really useful gift! I bought these two options, but there are also black and other simpler designs available.
This UGG sweatshirt is nice and comes in four colors..
I will try to add to this list as we move through the season and update it if things run out..
A few other good things to share...
Blooms by Tara
My friend Tara is a talented local floral designer that does events and even subscriptions so you can always have beautiful flowers in house. I asked her If I could share on the weekend post as I often get inquiries about local flower designers. Tara is your go-to and she has a beautiful aesthetic!
Blooms by Tara is a bespoke floral design studio located in Los Gatos that specializes in floral design and styling for private events, birthdays, small businesses, retail, open houses, and also offer monthly subscription services. – A great idea for holidays! Follow Tara on Instagram to see her latest work. To inquire about services, contact her via Instagram direct message, or by phone 408-234-2173.
Holiday Home Tour 2022
I was lucky to be invited to join a Holiday Home Tour this week. There were five days of fantastic and creative holiday decor ideas and Juliet and I were part of Wednesday’s tour which was living rooms/ dens. If you missed it, I shared my little pink Christmas tree I have in my little office/den area!
Juliet shared her beautiful and cozy blue library and all her pretty and festive decor..I loved her mantel!
Links also to Cindy, Mary Ann and Annie’s homes along with all the talented ladies and their homes from all over the country is at the end of this post..
Juliet and I also did our first LIVE on Instagram. Though we were a little shaky in the technical parts at first, it was a lot of fun sort of like coffee hour-and great to chat with those who popped by and left comments! Hopefully this might be a regular thing, so if you aren’t following along on Instagram, please do. We love to interact with you all. You can watch our chat here!
DO you make a December bucket list? There are so many holiday activities. The best part of the holiday are the rituals I think! For us, it’s always baking cookies, going to San Francisco for lunch and shopping, and one night to drive by the lights of Willow Glen and a few others. I just alwasys hope to squeeze it all in..If you need ideas for fun things to do, Elizabeth had a great post this week chock full of ideas! I’m printing it out and trying to add a few more.
Tomorrow is another one of those special December things- our town of Los Gatos has it’s annual holiday parade. It’s the biggest holiday parade west of the Rockies! I’ll share and write more about it next week on a post with a few other on hometown holidays. Plus festive outfit ideas are coming on Tuesday for December’s Signature Style…
And that is my weekend meanderings for this week. Please stop over at Elizabeth and Juliet’s blogs to see what fun they are sharing..
Have a lovely weekend,
If you missed last weekend’s meander..I shared a recipe for persimmon bread, my Thanksgiving table, and a gift ideas for women.
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Thank you everyone for the kind notes and messages about the last post. I’ve added a six more ideas on how to help at the bottom of that post. Everyone has been so great brainstorming and thinking of more ways to do good in our communities for each other. It’s very inspiring.
We are trying to care for everyone in our community right now, but let’s not forget about our own health as well. Many people are getting worn down by domestic work and caregiving. A lot of us are doing a whole lot more cooking, cleaning (disinfecting!), loads of wash, helping with kids’ school, shopping for extended family and more. I told my husband the other day I have never felt so busy in my life and I don’t go anywhere! To stay healthy right now, we have to be good to ourselves too. This post is just a few tips to help you treat yourself a bit. Don’t let yourself get rundown, it’s not good for the immune system.
I was feeling and looking haggard a week or so ago. I’m not a huge high maintenance person, but I am weeks past my highlight to cover my grey and could seriously use a pedi/mani. My face has looked super dry too and my hands! Yikes.
Make sure you are eating nutritiously as you can, take vitamins and drink plenty of water right now. I realized I had fallen off the wagon a bit with all that. I got back to my routine of drinking two big glasses of water as soon as I wake up. That kind of sets the stage for a hydrated day. A squeeze of lemon in that water is nice if you have it. I fill a big carafe just for me of ice water and try to drink it through the day. My goal is to finish it by dinner. After my coffee, I have an EmergenC in my water with this pandemic going on. I figure the extra zinc and vitamins might not hurt. I also take Calm gummies if I am feeling anxiety and two to three before bed help me sleep easier.
I made some time last weekend to do nail care, mask, deep condition the hair. One thing I’ve been meaning to purchase for a while is a proper makeup mirror. I had my eye on this one by Simple Human and it went on sale so I bought it. It has been excellent. This mirror is 5xs and has a 10xs piece that is magnetic you pop on it to do brows, lashes, etc. It’s seriously good and also slightly frightening, but you need to know what is happening with your face. It has smart capabilities so you can change the light by your phone. I don’t know how I was managing before it.
Are your hands pretty bad from all the alcohol sanitizer and excess washing? I think the only thing saving me now is this soap from A La Maison. These French soaps have argon oil in them and one pump lasts a long time even with my crew. I love that they leave a little moisture on the skin. We have used almost all the scents as they are very light and subtle. The White Tea is my favorite, but we have also had Cherry Blossom, Sea Salt and I like Rosemary Mint for the kitchen. Once you try these you can’t go back to regular soaps. Sometimes I find it at Whole Foods, but they’ve been out lately and so I’ve been ordering online.
If you haven’t tried Skin Food by Weleda then this is the time with all the hand washing. I could not cope without this and just a few times a day makes my hands so much prettier. I rub this into the cuticles well and use it on my feet at night as a treatment. It’s wonderful on elbows and even so pure you can use it on the face, as I have when skiing. All the Weleda products are plant based and super pure. The key to this stuff is using the correct amount which is a small dab on the backs of your hands and work it in as it’s extremely rich.
I stumbled upon these Lumene products from Finland at CVS recently when I was out of my face wash. I first just bought the Cleansing Balm. I am crazy about this product, which you work into your skin at night and it becomes more liquid as you massage. It really feels like a facial and the massaging is so good for your face tone. I remove mine with a warm washcloth and my skin fees like I’ve been to the spa. I now also have the Sleeping Creme and the Eye Treatment. The quality of these products is excellent and I like that they all have vitamin C, arctic cloudberry, hyaluronic acid and are vegan. If you are needing something now and feeling a bit dehydrated, these work. I have sensitive skin and rosacea and they’ve been great.
I also love this whole line, Grown Alchemist which is a line created by two Australian brothers and is based on improving the health of your skin cells. The Gentle Cleanser and the hand creme and body creme are such good products!
Anthropologie carries a good variety of fun sheet masks like this variety pack of Korean ones which are always so good and these Patchcology Eye Patches. Put on some soothing music or a book on tape and do a mask! These are so hydrating.
You probably haven’t had your nails done for a while, but you can do a lot at home actually. I love working on my nails in the yard in a sunny spot.
The natural look is hot, so try removing all your nail polish for a week or so and let your nails breathe a bit. Shorter nails are not only more chic and modern, they have the advantage of being more sanitary too- kind of a big thing now. Bare nails may look terrible at first if you aren’t used to them, but after a week of no polish you’ll see a shine when the natural oils come back. One trick to look polished is to push your cuticles back after every shower or bath and use a loofah on the skin around your toenails. Rub some olive oil into them afterwards. If your cuticles are really bad you can make a scrub of white sugar and olive oil. Let it sit for a bit and then scrub away. Here’s a mask just for your hands..
When I paint my own nails, I like to have a fresh bottle – or at least something not gloopy and thick. I recently ordered this Chanel polish. I think their polishes always come in the most beautiful colors and last.
It comes in a pretty white color I love for a pedicure.
How’s your hair? I’ve heard a lot of friends thinking of trying out the grey they keep colored and letting to grow. I am going to see how long I can go and what I look like. Right now mine is a few inches out. One of the things I miss about coloring is the coating of my hair, which gives it luster and a thick feeling. This keratin shampoo can help used every once a week and also a hair mask will too. I also splurge on this Oribe shampoo occasionally which always makes my hair look better. To help the contrast of the roots not be too stark, keep the blowdryer away from your root, and alternatively let your hair air dry and you’ll see they aren’t nearly as noticeable.
This Bobbie Brown brow gel/ root touchup they can be used in the interim near the front of the face. I would use it to cover some very white strand that can make me look like I have a bare patch on the front of my scalp. I’ll let you know how I do on the grey. You can see from the top photo, it’s becoming a greige kind of color on top. I do think this is a fun opportunity to try something new and see how we look without so much maintenance. So far I haven’t attempted to cut my hair, but there sure are a lot of tutorials out there. I think I’ll see how long mine can get until I can see my dear hairdresser Abby. You can also contact your hairdresser and some are making custom mixed home kits for your color if it’s a root touch-up. (Consider pre-paying for a service by your hairdresser to help them out now. My hairdresser sent us a link to prepay for a deep conditioning to use later and we could PayPal her. You could do the same with your nail technician also. It’s a nice thing to do to support them during this!)
Other little things that you should be doing are time for yourself -escaping with a book or a relaxing hobby is nice. Take a block of time each day and mark out down time just for this and then do it. Make sure to turn off the news and turn on some music when you can. I can feel the difference in my mood and blood pressure just by playing music instead of the nightly corona report. Walk around your neighborhood to appreciate the spring flowers or listen to bird songs in the sun of your yard if you have an outdoor space. Another thing that is good is to escape into a podcast while you do chores or cook dinner. I have even just appreciated a drive to the post office by myself listening to the radio right now. A cup of herbal tea in your favorite corner is always healing. Take time to cut some flowers if you have any and if you have the space, this is the best time to start your own garden. Nothing is more rewarding and good for the soul.. More on that soon.
I hope these little tips help. Please share any thing you are doing to pamper yourself a little during this stressful time. Books and podcasts you recommend are appreciated too.
P.S. The blouse I am wearing on the top is from Loft and is on their sale now. It’s one of the last things I bought before we were all in.
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The last week flew by. Easter was just not like Easter, but my tulips are still holding up from brunch.
I want to write about the usual things and I have to tell you all I feel torn. I get up and read what so many are dealing with in our country with their health and so many millions unemployed and I feel wrong not bringing it up here. I know we need some distraction, but it seems like there should be more we can do than just keep ourselves and our own families happy.
I don’t like feeling like I can’t make a difference when I see so many are struggling right now. The monotony of things was getting me down and I needed something to feel like I can help with what is happening in this world.
I know a lot of us feel the same, so maybe if we focus outside of ourselves it will help get through this time. I’ve been trying to think of some good we can do, by donating some time or money and sharing kindness amongst us.
My family got an opportunity to make lunch weekly for a local pantry, Loaves & Fishes, that helps those in need. We have a weekly gig to make 100 lunches. It’s been good for four of us, and takes only an hour or so if we all work together. Those days feel busy and purposeful and I like that.
Some even made uplifting notes on the bags. I love that. Maybe next week we will too.
My friend Cindy and her daughter have been making masks for a local shelter that helps kids in need. When they couldn’t find supplies, her daughter thought of using old dresses and their straps to make these. So smart and innovative of her!
I just read two local boys used their piggy bank money and got a restaurant to partner and match their sandwiches they bought for a local sheriff station. For people who want to help others I read you can call local hospitals, fire or police station or shelters and see if they are accepting donations and then arrange to donate food at a particular time, and possibly even coordinate with a restaurant. This is a helpful page of local emergency food places that feed and can use donations or help in the South Bay area and this is the United States directory of food banks and soup kitchens so you can find one wherever you live to help. Each lists where they can use help or money. Those places are a real lifeline for even more people now.
I also like the charity Save The Children, which has been out there from the beginning helping with this pandemic. You can read more about them and donate on this page. One billion children are now out of school, which is a safe space for many of them. They are trying to help here at home and abroad.
The people in our nearest circles are those we can help most easily. If you have a housekeeper, a gardener or music teacher or someone in your life that does a service and lives paycheck to paycheck, I think it’s important at this time to pay them if you can. Many are not recognized by the government now as unemployed and some are not even able to access any aid at all. Give what you can and ask what they need.
Other ways we can all make a difference is in our own families, friends and neighborhoods. I sent a stack of cards off last week before Easter and plan to do more next week. A card, a text, or a call is all someone needs to know you are thinking of them. A lot of people live alone and may be feeling extra lonely right now. Some may be too proud to ask for help, even in your own family. You may have to bug them and ask what they need. Older people can be proud. I have already reached out to the one elderly neighbor who lives alone and she has assured me she needs no shopping and her boys are taking care of her. I am thinking of dropping her some magazines and flowers on the porch. She recently lost her husband and I cannot imagine how hard it is to be alone now.
Max and I have been talking about doing something for our neighborhood. We have received masks, chocolates and uplifting notes from our neighbors like this…
We want to find a way to bring some joy and let them know we are here in this together. Home made baked goods and food aren’t so welcome now so we’ve been brainstorming ideas. One way would be to help the local businesses at the same time and buy each a gift card for a restaurant take-away meal. Another idea is to buy each family a puzzle from our small nearby toy store to work on, or a bird feeder from bird watcher store around the corner and seed. Do you have suggestions for us?
A local place to find help or give help is Nextdoor, where people are offering to grocery shop for elderly or immune compromised people in their neighborhood. As some aren’t on the internet, others are leaving notes on their doorsteps with names and phones and the times they shop. I think this is so kind!
- Contact your hairdresser, barber or nail technician and offer to pay for a service to two ahead of time. You can send them a check or PayPal and they will appreciate having some money now.
- How are your teachers faring in this? Things are so different in each area. Many are working overtime to not only craft these online plans, but also help kids with online tutoring. Making a care package for your teacher with snacks, a book or some flowers or a plant are one way to say thank you. Also arranging to have a meal delivered to them or their family is very thoughtful.
- Leave a box on your doorstep with granola bars, cans of drinks and little packages of crackers for the UPS, FEDEX, mail and other delivery people. A kind note is a nice way to thank you for all the ton of packages they are delivering now to everyone while putting themselves at risk. If you know them personally like your mailman or package delivery guy a gift card to Starbucks or Safeway is thoughtful right now.
- The trash and recycling people are working overtime now. The recycling guy is now 4 days behind here as people are ordering and recycling so much. A note of thanks and a treat is one way to say we appreciate you being out there doing this for us all.
- Think about leaving a note of cheer in your neighborhood or walk with a sign, like this one I saw yesterday. Bowls of apples and dog treats are left by one sweet person’s home I walk by on the weekend and I have seen so many people begin to offer books in their front yard, even without a little library kiosk. I guess others are cleaning out and I saw a pretty china set put out as well. (Books and apples can be wiped down with alcohol- apples washed with hot soapy water, and books left out for a few days if you are concerned.)
- Leave a Teddy Bear or cute stuffed animal or drawing with a happy note in your window for local children to find on walks.
Notes in my neighborhood!
If you’re on Facebook, someone created a wonderful page called View From My Window as a way to connect us all together while we are sheltering all over the planet. People post their views and sometimes a little note about their life. The words of encouragement and kindness on here really warm the heart. I also love seeing the beautiful places around the world, while stuck at home like this below…
I also love Matt Haig and this from him..
Thinking of you friends and wishing you safe and well. Please leave me a note below for other ideas or ways to be helpful during this time.
Hello friends. How is your summer going? I hope you are getting out to savor a few of those quintessential things I am like evening bike rides and ice cream bars (way too many!) I just wanted to check in for a minute and give you a few updates… Epic insanity here right now trying to move back to our house in about a week and a half. I told my husband the other night it was the first time I thought I may actually have a break-down. I realized I four lights that have to be returned didn’t work and need to be replaced and about 100+ knobs were still to be chosen for the house! Not to mention a whole host of other things I haven’t even gotten to yet. I was feeling it.
Then shockingly yesterday I got the knobs chosen in a miracle one hour with a wonderfully helpful gal from Belmont Hardware in Cupertino. I couldn’t believe it. I was so relieved I could have cried as I am naturally a bit indecisive and the choices for cabinet hardware are infinite and we had eight spaces that needed knobs. Crazy right? I was so happy and then a friend who just finished a renovation contacted me to ask if I’d like to purchase two of her bathroom lights she didn’t use. They were my style and adorable. Unbelievable. So things were looking up by time I went to bed yesterday! On that note, I felt I could take a few minutes to blog about things I’ve been loving for summer. I’m able to breathe a little today.
In the process of shopping for the renovation I’ve been finding all kinds of cool things and I am in love with some of the vintage photos on One King’s Lane. This print by Santa Forlano, from a 1962 Glamour magazine is so lovely- the colors, the tree- it all feels like the tones in my house too. I am thinking this would be lovely somewhere..Not sure exactly, maybe in my all white bath or the bedroom?
This Slim Aarons print of women at a pool in Athens also is cool. I’d love this above a tub or in the pool bathroom. The vintage swimming cap reminds me of my grandmother who had a whole collection of these when we were kids and how cute are the bathing suits and sundresses here with Athens in the backdrop? Wish I could find such a swimsuit now!
This photo though seems more personal to me – also Slim Aarons titled Lake Tahoe couple. It reminds me of my parents who were both huge swimmers- my mom a water ballet ( synchro) swimmer and my dad, a water polo player. Looks like this was taken at the iconic CalNeva lodge which straddles the California Nevada border and was a glam hangout for the rat pack types in the 60s. We spent many a day by the pool as kids at home and we often had dragged the puffy chaise pads like this to the pool edge. I may have to get this one. It also makes me wonder if I could find our own vintage photos and do something like this though the likelihood of blowing one up successfully are probably slight given the quality and whereabouts of negatives…
While we are on pools, I collect pool themed books. Our house in wrapped by a pool so I decided to embrace it. I started accidentally one day at my local vintage bookshop I came across a rare copy of Kelly Kline’s Pools book for a song and then found a very old Slim Aaron’s book. That got me going and now I grab them when I see ones I like. I plan to have a stack on my coffee table when I move back. A new pool book just came on my radar..
Splash by Annie Kelly and her photographer husband looks gorgeous. I die just looking at this cover pool! It has photos by pool type and inspiration and has a few celebrity pools too.
In that summer state of mind, want to feel like French girl on your next trip to Whole Foods? Well then you need a proper market tote like they use in Provence and all over the Cote D’Azur for shopping trips and errands. This little gem showed above, popped up on an Amazon search for something else and I love it. I almost bought the exact one on last year in Antibes, but the challenge was getting it back with all the other stuff I crammed in the overhead bin. I didn’t want it ruined so I held off. Then here it is on Amazon and able to come in like a day!! Even if you use it for beach trips, or just to hang on a simple hook by the door you have instant summer chic.
I also love striped summer throws for sofas, across tables and on the ends of beds. When I see one I like I grab it and now have big basket full of these for the cool evenings here in Northern Cal. This striped one is cute, also Amazon. I’m thinking of getting a few for the boy’s beds and just having their sheets and this for summer.
By the way have you all gotten in to Turkish towels yet? They are so much better than the usual beach or bath towel as they dry crazy fast, look super cute too. I bought a bundle of these at Homegoods at the beginning of the summer as I plan to replace all the heavy pool towels with these. They can just get hung up and dry in a flash. No more big loads of beach towels – so much greener and I don’t need to use the dryer. In fact they are so cute I am thinking of getting everyone these for the bathrooms now too. They are also good for kids who need to take a towel to camp or to the beach. They roll up to nothing.
This brand is Oeko certified and has the gamut of colors! Check them out. Do not underestimate how cute these look hung on hooks. They add that summer something to a bath or the yard.
Speaking of summer chic, a photo I took two years summers ago in Sorrento came up online. How dreamy is this square with wicker baskets, blue glass bottles and the cutest gal with with her wayfarers and scarf tied bun enjoying a paperback? I look at this and see La Dolce Vita right there. A reminder to make time each day for more of those naps, books in sun-dappled corners and luxuriating in all the good of summer while we are in it.
That’s it for now kids. Hopefully I’ll be back soon with more if I survive the next two weeks!
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Good morning pals. I was dead tired putting this together last night, but I thought I’d throw a few of the best pics together and do a little round-up anyway so don’t kill me if I left your favorites out… and there could be typos..
What did you all think of the show? I thought it was a little odd without a host to be honest. It seemed to be missing some flow and some of the acceptance speeches were droning on while people read the names of every human they’ve ever come in contact with. It was a bit of a mess at the beginning. Then it seemed to gain some rhythm and it always ends well when there are some inspiring acceptance speeches. Olivia Colman proved again she is the most likable and cute actor out there. Rami Malek is darling and I was so happy he won and he brought his film wife who is now his real-life girlfriend. Barbara Streisand had the best intro to a film – Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlannsman saying she loved it for being funny, entertaining and telling the truth, something really needed now. I so want to see it. In my opinion the best parts of the night- The Queen opening with the original band members and Adam Lambert- and Gaga and Bradley Cooper singing their Shadows song..
In the end Green Book won, which had some controversy, but I thought it still a great film and eye-opening about a lot of things people have no clue were happening in America just a few decades ago. Personally though, I thought Bohemian Rhapsody was amazing – the story, the music and I kind of was hoping it won.
Some of the best looks of the night…
Not the best looks these people have ever worn…
Things are changing though. You can tell people are caring less about being ‘red carpet’ perfect and are dressing to please themselves. This seems a result of the backlash a few years ago when all the carpet was about was the designers and not the work these people did. Now we are seeing more individuality and less styled people.
Some cute couples who did their own THING…
Some of the after-party looks are actually better than the awards show…
Tell me your thoughts on the show. Who did you think looked great or who needed help? Did your favorites win?
Have a good week!
Thanks for visiting my little corner of the world!
I’m a blogger, writer and third-generation Northern Californian who just renovated my 1965 home and am working on a tiny West Shore Tahoe cabin.
Fashion, design and style are my passions and I share what speaks to me and fits my California aesthetic. I love writing about unique homes, people with personal style, shopping finds, and cool ideas I feel fortunate to live in Northern California with its natural beauty, and fabulous destinations.
Since I began my blog in 2011, I have been privileged to partner with Serena & Lily, Trina Turk, Whole Foods, Rails, and other California companies.
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This year they are addressing envelopes for free if your place an order. That was an offer I couldn’t pass up, so last night spent an hour with the husband making an actual spreadsheet of all our address book/contact list together. It only took us 20 years of marriage to do it, but now we have it!! I sent that off and am looking forward to getting my cards out a bit earlier this year. I won’t have to sit long hours addressing them and can take time to write notes in those for far off relatives and friends.
We were in San Francisco for Cirque du Soleil last week and had some time to kill near China Basin and the ballpark. My sons skateboarded around a bit and I cajoled them into posing for a quick photo. They aren’t matching, or even wearing their nicest clothes, but they look like authentic teenage guys. I love these impromptu photos more than any staged photo sessions and this card design was modern which I think goes well with the casual feel of our cards.
Minted always uses unexpected colors in their designs as well. I like that you can often choose the color of the writing on the card fonts as some photos clearly stand out more with cool or warm tones. I’m crazy like that, but it makes a photo sometimes.
Another nice feature is the ability to add another photo on the back of the whole family with a little note we wrote ourselves. Max and I always dig the Peace, Love and Happiness message as so many of our friends celebrate other holidays this season and we send cards to everyone. My husband’s sis Amara took this pic of us at Natural Bridges. We went on a family trek to see the Monarch Butterfly on their migration on Black Friday instead of shopping and did the #optoutside thing. Love the movement behind that.
Today, Cyber Monday, there is 20% off everything at Minted (use code CM2016 ), including their cute calendars which I have made for my husband many times as Christmas gifts. I use our best snaps from the past year and we really do enjoy seeing them the next year, month by month. I even cut them up after and use the pictures in frames.
For holiday gifts I like their hand drawn maps and prints featuring independent artists. Some of the San Francisco ones here..
They also make custom prints tailored to your location, city or state. Any of these would make a memorable gift and are also on the sale today.
Minted opened a San Francisco store this year and I had a chance to pop in on my last trip up to Union Square. It’s full of lovely pillows, cute home textiles, stationery, and art. They also have people to help create a dream gallery wall, as well as customized cards and invites and more.
So do you do cards still? A few years ago I wrote this post What a Christmas Card Means about the history of them and my own memories of receiving them. I really enjoy the tradition. Though it takes some time and effort, it’s so worth it as it’s a little gift saying thank you for being in our lives. Love that!
Hi friends if you are following along here’s the second installment of our trip to Europe. The first is Our Two Days in Munich.
After two jam packed days in the wonderland that is Munich, we hopped a train and in under two hours were in Salzburg. With just 12 days in Europe we debated which cities to visit. We knew we wanted to see some of Austria and thought perhaps we’d do Vienna, but Salzburg was a little smaller and the fact they had a ‘Sound of Music’ bike tour made us choose it as our Austrian stop.
The trains in Europe are wonderful and there is usually no need to get tickets in advance or go first class. It’s easy to get seats together unless you’re traveling during a holiday time. After checking the schedule online, we bought the tickets in the Munich station and walked on the train ten minutes later. I so enjoyed seeing the small towns and villages and the countryside of course. We bought cappuccinos and read our books when we weren’t fascinated with the view.
When we arrived at the station, we grabbed a cab at the taxi line and took a short drive into the Altstadt or Old Town of Salzburg where our charming hotel was located. The city is divided by the Salzach River with the Medival and Baroque building of Old Town on the left and the 19th century Neustadt or New Town on the Right bank.
Our Hotel Goldgasse sits on a cobblestone street of the same name that once housed the goldsmiths of the town. The hotel was a former coppersmiths in the late 1500’s and was beautifully restored with parts of ancient columns and frescoes unearthed during it’s renovation. Like most of the Old Town, there are remnants of the past dug up everywhere and incorporated into the modern buildings. You can even see ancient columns in the Starbucks!
We enjoyed a cozy dinner here on rainy night with the best potato pancakes!
Up our spiral staircase was a lovely terrace overlooking Salzburg. There were lounges and a table and chairs. A larger communal terrace was also same floor as our apartment. Great places to relax after a day of exploring the city.
Our apartment had some interesting wall murals!
Our proprietress recommended a lunch around the corner at one of the older authentic Austrian restaurants. We had a cozy meal watched by portraits of Mozart’s family.
Again the cuisine is heavy on schnitzels with a side of pretzels.
I learned to order a Radler which is half lemon-lime soda and half beer. It’s light and refreshing. Brits call this a Shandy.
Afterward, we donned our rain slickers and set out to walk a bit of the city. The streets are charming and we stopped to get some Mozart Balls or Mozartkugel which are pistachio marzipan covered in nougat and chocolate.
Mozart rubber ducks !
There are two different kinds of Mozart Balls sold and I am firmly in the blue camp, which taste much better than the red ones.
If you’re a Marzipan fan it’s everywhere here !
On rainy days like this there are many cute shops to pop in and cozy cafes to have coffee.
Salzberg is the birthplace of Mozart so there are many tributes to him as well as the Mozarteum University of Salzburg, one of the most respected universities for musical studies in Europe. There are students all over the city toting cellos on bikes, and squeezing musical instruments on trains, and performing in many spots. You can feel the love of music here!
The Altstadt, or Old Town is a UNESCO world heritage site as it is one of the best preserved city centers north of the Alps and was spared much damage during World War II. The meandering cobbled streets and Baroque buildings will transport you back to another time and place.
We stopped in Salzburg Dom (Cathedral.) This is where Mozart was baptized and was chief organist.
On the walk up to the top of the city fortress you can stop at the oldest bakery in the world, Stiftsbaeckerei St Peter. We bought some kind of cookie that had rye and a bun of some sort. They didn’t speak English and we have only a smattering of German. By the way, Austrians seem to speak slightly less English than the Swiss and Germans and take less credit cards. You want to brush up on your basic German and have some Euros with you. Even in the train station, few places take credit.
A typical Austrian window on the walk up to the castle. Don’t you love the flowers and the heart?
We made it to Hohensalzburg Castle, right near the bakery, that afternoon and took the small funicular ride to the top to explore. Construction began in 1077 of this fortress which is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. There are some good spots to grab a snack or a meal on a sunny day when you can leisurely explore this castle with amazing views. As it was raining pretty hard, we darted about to the rooms and lookouts.
The view of Salzburg from one of the lookouts.
The original walls from Roman times have been uncovered in spots.
The next morning we woke to a bright and sunny day which was perfect as we had our bike tour on the schedule. My husband Max found this very fun bike tour just for me. I think he’d rather do a multi-day bike holiday, but this was more my speed.
The Fraulein Maria’s Bicycle Tour was a blast and I’m not the most skilled biker. I was nervous about biking through the city streets, yet there were small kids and grandmas along with us so that made me relax. They make it very easy and safe as you travel in a big train of bikes with a leader and follower.
The 1965 film Sound of Music was made in Salzburg and has a cult following especially of Americans. Believe it or not, most Austrians do not know this movie, yet people from all over the globe make the journey here to see where the story unfolded. This bike tour takes you to the houses and churches and other spots of interest from the film. You’ll also hear fun stories and secrets you may not know about the making of the film.
You begin at the Mirabell Palace which is a 17th century residence with gorgeous gardens that featured prominently in movie. Remember the steps and the round fountain where the von Trapp children sang ‘Do-a-deer’ etc? Well they are all in this garden and you are invited to run about a bit and recreate those moments if you want!
Then a little stop to see the abbey where Maria was living before she was sent to help the von Trapps.
Remember this gate the nuns answered the children at and kept the S.S. out? This is it.
Next we began our ride through the countryside portion of the tour and past the back of this, the film home of Captain von Trapp.
Remember where the kids and Fraulein Maria overturned in the boat when saying welcome home to the captain? Love that scene. The littlest one, Gretl apparently didn’t swim and Julie Andrews was to catch her, but they accidentally went over opposite sides of the boat, so everyone was in the water trying to grab her! Guess she survived, but probably traumatic for the child.
Most of this was on a beautiful country path with mountain views and a few horse riders as well.
Schlosspark Hellbrunn, is a park connected to this beautiful yellow palace, which you can also tour. This time we just took a quick break from the bikes before we headed back to town.
This is also the home of the famous gazebo from the film which has been moved here. The gazebo was not in the original home, but built by the studio. Later it was removed to this park on the outskirts of town.
If it wasn’t locked I would have asked my husband to play Rolf and we could have done a ‘I am Sixteen’ rendition! (However I believe he envisions more the Captain. Lol. ) I’m sure they are aware of crazies like myself so they have it only open for special occasions. Sigh. 😀
Did I mention the beautiful neighborhoods too? As a house lover I was in residential heaven. Some gorgeous homes, but I wasn’t able to snap many pics as I was pedaling and had to keep up with the group, though it wasn’t hard.
Our guide Tom snapped a photo of us together.
Past the wall, you come to the front of the von Trapp home, which now houses musical students.
We then meandered along the very pretty and long riverfront.
Love locks on the Makartsteg Footbridge .
Later in the day I took some time to do a little shopping on the main street of the old town.
Love the hanging signs in the Altstadt!
Window shopping. More cool picnic baskets.
Austrians, like most Europeans are very polished smartly dressed.
I noticed in Austria they wear a huge amount of bright and light colors. It’s like beige is their black,
Many shops selling beautiful woven totes and bright blankets.
There was a local market happening as well.
I got addicted to some kind of multi-grain roll with apricot bits that is sold all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Have no idea what they are called. Maybe someone reading will know. The bread products all over Europe are far superior to the U.S. Rare to see the kind of processed breads that are so common here.
We need more of this kind of entrepreneurship here in California.
This church surrounded a square and they had put out wicker chairs and couches for locals to enjoy. People were reading books, not playing Pokemon!
Boxwood is ubiquitous here and I love it!
The Augustiner is the most famous brewery Salzburg and a favorite with locals so go EARLY if you want to eat outside and bring cash as they take no credit. It’s jovial atmosphere with families and young people as well. You may share a table, but it’s all about the experience!!
Photo via Wikipedia, Mine did not come out.
Up next we make our way to Switzerland and the lovely city of Lucerne and go to the top of Mount Pilatus, 7,000 feet up!
Last week it was winter break for our kids at school and we decided to make a trek to one of my favorite spots on the planet, The Big Island of Hawaii. Regular readers of this blog know how much I love this place and it’s beauty. In fact I had to control myself from over Instagramming while I was there. There’s just so much gorgeousness. I’ve been to Hawaii in June (our usual time) and in April for Easter, and this was our first time in February. Even thought it was high season by their standards, it never feels crowded in the Big Island or where we love to stay, The Mauna Lani.
The minute I walk through the entrance there is ukulele music gently wafting on air and the smell of tropical flowers hits me. I’m relaxed before I can even think about it!
Right before I left on this trip coincidentally I was contacted by the Mauna Lani to share about special rates they have beginning March 1. When they heard I was traveling there they invited me to experience dinner with my family at the legendary Canoe House with their newest Chef de Cuisine. Who could refuse? So today I’ll share all the good things about this hidden gem of a resort. Just don’t tell too many people! I want it to stay that way.
First thing in the morning, my favorite thing is to grab some Kona coffee or a coconut latte at the Mountain Thunder Roasting Company in the lobby and then take an early morning beach walk with my husband while the kids sleep in. This is the northern facing beach on the property near the bungalows and has the best turtle sighting and is a pretty walk or jog. There’s a path to the Fairmont Orchid which is about a ten minute walk along the beach here. You can also take a one of the beach cruiser bikes over there and have lunch or to the Mauna Lani Shops and restaurants which are about a five minute drive or ten minutes by bike.
After that we usually have buffet breakfast overlooking the fishponds and beach. Love this outdoor seat to all the birds and flowers. It’s a wonderful way to begin the day.
We loved the little cat who has a special spot to nap at the lifeguard station here!
I also am partial to the front beach of the resort as it has beautiful trees, hammocks and cabanas to duck into and read or watch sailboats float by. There’s a nice reef here for beginning snorkelers and paddle boarders. It’s also where the green turtles or Honu like to sun themselves. You have to be careful not to step on one as they sometimes blend in with the lava rocks!
I think this picture says it all. Probably the prettiest sunset and view we’ve ever had at dinner!
Cocktails did not disappoint! I love a flower in my drink. They have many house specialty drinks and a terrific wine list. David Morimoto the manager, has worked in Napa and has brought his knowledge of wines to the table so to speak here.
Everyone takes photos at sunset and on the bridge into the restaurant as it’s exquisitely picturesque.
Max had the wok tossed lobster, a new creation by the chef and it was AMAZING! I want to have it again. Yes I ate some of his..Okay a lot of his!
I had the macadamia encrusted mahi mahi. Was wonderful with pineapple relish.
I can’t eat enough macadamia items when I’m in Hawaii.
My boys had filet mignon and were in heaven.
Next up on the blog, I’ll share my other favorite spot on the Big Island..It was hard to leave the resort, but we did make it out to some cool places. Then I’ll tell you what to pack and what to bring home from a Big Island getaway.
Thanks for coming along!
Last photo courtesy of Mauna Lani, all other property of NorthernCalStyle.