Thursday, July 26, 2012

Matchbooks and Menus

This spring, my husband finally repainted a hallway off our kitchen. Years ago, the ceiling had been damaged from a bathtub overflow; we repaired the plumbing but the ceiling remained an embarrassment until recently.

Back in December 2010, we were lucky enough to dine at the famous Alinea with our neighbors; my neighbor had the great idea to frame the menu and, so, once our hallway was presentable once again, we copied. We also framed a signed menu from Chicago's TRU. I hope to add many more menus to this wall! I get so hungry every time I'm passing through and I glance through the choices.

Earlier this summer, I was scrolling through a blog entry from featuring charming Lilly-ish decor in a newly opened store, including a striking collection of framed matchbooks. I've been collecting matchbooks for a long time--sadly, they are harder and harder to come by--and it occurred to me that I could finally put them to some aesthetic use. Thus, some of my matchbook collection displayed in a shadowbox frame from Michael's. Most of them come from places in either Chicago or Los Angeles, but Bermuda, Nantucket and New Orleans are also represented! (A friend brought me back a matchbox from the famous Raffles hotel in Singapore, but since I haven't been there myself, I thought that would be cheating.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Graduation Days in Los Angeles

I'm Back! I'll try to do better, I really will. I've gotten very lazy now that I have all this empty-nest/summer-off-from-teaching time. But it's been an eventful year, all the same. As you know, my eldest son was married in January. A few days later, my Dad passed away. Then, in May, my youngest son graduated from the University of Southern California! Hurray!

It was a splurge-y kind of celebration long weekend.  We brought along our oldest son and our *new*! daughter-in-law, and we stayed at the Viceroy Santa Monica.

Of course, we immediately hit up the gorgeous lobby bar for drinks:

Later, the soon-to-be graduate joined us for dinner at Mercado in Santa Monica (the recommendation for which I owe Femme Curieuse a big thank you!):

Graduation day dawned cold and foggy. We froze through the main ceremony, but I did get to see Kathy Lee Gifford and her daughter Cassidy (her son, Cody, graduated from USC son has waited on him at a local restaurant and says he's pretty nice)! The sun came out eventually, and Max got his Bachelor of Science!

Max and a few of his housemates:

The proud graduate...

Back to the Viceroy for lunch and cocktails with my brother, sister-in-law and niece, who came down from the Antelope Valley to celebrate with us.

Other highlights of the trip included:

  • Mother's Day brunch at Duke's in Malibu, where we saw a whale AND met the REAL Gidget!
  • Seeing Conan O'Brien and his children crossing Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica.  He is damn tall!
  • Other celebrity sighting:  Elizabeth Perkins at James Perse in Malibu.
  • SHOPPING!  I hit up Planet Blue and Lululemon big time. 

We adored staying at the Viceroy. The Kelly Wearstler design is not only beautiful, but amazingly comfortable, and we loved all the employees we had the pleasure to encounter. Although we didn't get to enjoy the pool because it was so cold throughout our stay, we took full advantage of the heated pool-side cabanas for meals and for late-night martinis. On Saturday night, my husband and I hung out in the lobby and met so many interesting people.  I'd say if you can afford it, stay at Shutters  or Loew's because they're on the beach, but the Viceroy is a bit less pricey (though of course still a splurge!), and is just a walk across Ocean and down a bit to the Pacific.

No.  More. Tuition.  Hurray!  And congratulations to my darling college graduate, Maxwell.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Beginning and an Ending

On January 20, 2012, during a big snowstorm, my oldest son was married to a beautiful woman. Both the wedding and the reception were held at Salvage One in Chicago.

The ceremony was delayed for over an hour, as the guests--and the musicians--straggled in from the snow. Luckily, the liquor was already there and the bartender started serving immediately. Above, my youngest son (the best man), my husband, my oldest son and I hang out and try to manage our excitement.

I wore a DVF dress, Jimmy Choo heels, and borrowed a gorgeous blond mink wrap from my husband's colleague. (Was sooo sad to give it back!) My husband had given me vintage Chanel earrings for Christmas, which went perfectly with my outfit.

Finally, most of the guests were in from the storm and seated. We walked our son down the aisle, and waited for the bride. This photo was taken by one of my son's college friends and I stole it from his Facebook page. This is the very moment my son saw his soon-to-be wife in her wedding dress, starting down the aisle with her parents. I stole this one too (thanks, Nick!):

Later, the newly married couple dancing:

And my husband and I dancing:

It was a wonderful night. The venue was amazing, and the falling snow outside the loft windows made the evening even more magical. What a beautiful beginning for a loving, loved couple.

Three days later, my Dad passed away at the age of 88, having been very ill for a couple of years and unwell for many years before that. He died at home, with my mother, several of my siblings and the next-door neighbors by his side. I happened to be on the phone with my sister-in-law, who was there with my parents, at the time he took his last breath; my brother took the phone and passed on the news.

Although too unwell to attend my son's wedding, my Dad was able to watch it via Skype from his living room in Pennsylvania, sitting in "his" leather Lazyboy chair. We really weren't surprised that he passed on only days after the wedding. Everybody just felt he was holding on to see his Joshua get married.

Here I am, at two months, sitting on my Daddy's lap, reading the evening paper with him. Love you, Daddy!

KLH 1923 - 2012

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Need Your Help!

I need a dress for my son's wedding!

Date: January, 2012 (brrrr!)

Inspiration for the wedding party: 1920s-1940s: vintage, mismatched, winter, old hollywood, city, classic, feathers & fur

Colors: , Maroon, Burgundy, Slate, Cream, Eggplant, Taupe, Mauve, Gray, Copper, Bronze, gold, etc...

I tried this, but it didn't work (at least the dress didn't--I adore the shoes but they're for fantasy purposes only):

So, any suggestions? You know what I look like: fit, but not skinny; broad shoulders, tall-ish. Budget: well, I'd like to keep it under $300 but willing to go up to $500-ish if it's amazing.

Bring it on, readers!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Road Trip, Summer 2011: Route 66. Day 4.

First, another great shot of the Acoma Pueblo:

Day 4: A busy one! Holbrook, Arizona, back about twenty miles, then onward to Flagstaff, Arizona.

We breakfasted at our Travelodge with a Swiss Banker and his family, who exhorted Max to attend grad school immediately after graduation from undergrad. (Max, who is a college senior now, is resisting further education at this point: he's sick of school and wants to experience the "real world." Snicker.)

Our first stop on the trail actually took us back east to the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest. At the Painted Desert, we ran into two Southern Gentlemen who were touring the West together in this:

These guys had actually been on the Acoma Pueblo tour with us the previous afternoon. The older of the two men was a truck driver who has driven all over the West but, because of his rig, never was able to see the sights. So, he bought the above beauty and asked his daughter's live-in boyfriend (a retired pipe fitter) to come along sightseeing. Their transportation had already broken down several times, but at least it had air conditioning!

The Painted Desert Inn, a former hotel that is now a tourist attraction, was worth viewing:

From the Painted Desert, we headed south to the Petrified Forest:

And then from there, we made haste to Flagstaff, one of my favorite towns in the United States. I've been through twice before and it's so pretty, and the people seem so cool, that I was excited to visit once again...this time, in the summer.

Our agenda when we arrived in Flagstaff was 1) eat lunch; 2) find a place to stay; and 3) drive up to the Grand Canyon.

Driving into town, we saw a guy rolling a cigarette on a street corner and asked him where we should go to lunch. He recommended the Lumberyard Brewing Company. So Max and I walked past the Train Depot and into the restaurant, enjoying a tasty lunch and a couple of fresh-brewed cold ones (yes, my baby boy is 21).

As we ate, I checked out my Road Trip 66! iPhone app for recommended hotels in Flagstaff. I fully intended to stay in a Quality Inn or motel of equal caliber, but the app suggested the Hotel Monte Vista, built in 1926 and not only the favorite of many a Hollywood legend, but haunted as well!** I immediately called and booked the Jack Daniels suite--the rooms are named for their famous occupants. Thus, lunch taken care of and a room reserved, Max and I were off to the Grand Canyon.

Max had been to the Grand Canyon when he was five, but he had no memory of that visit, so he was really excited to see it again as an adult.

Although we didn't do anything special at the Grand Canyon, like hike or take a helicopter ride, we stopped off at a number of overlooks and were, of course, amazed and impressed. I would love to take a rafting trip down the Colorado and through the Canyon someday.

Back to Flagstaff, where our first mission was to hit up the hotel bar! There, we met a Burlington-Northern Santa Fe train conductor (I've never met a train conductor before!) and then two Flagstaff guys who told us that everybody in Flagstaff--including the teachers, the attorneys AND even the judges--gets stoned regularly. (Don't worry, we didn't. But still, what a town!)

There are two more Flagstaff restaurants I need to mention. That evening, we dined at a wonderful wine bar called Cuvee 928. The food was delicious the wine selection lovely, and the prices were reasonable (I had the fish tacos). The next morning, we had a fabulous Mexican breakfast at MartAnne's Burrito Palace. Whoa, boy, my eggs + chorizo, hashbrowns and beans was spicy and filling. Perfect start to the last leg of our trip...across the desert to L.A.

**Sadly, I didn't see any ghosts in the Jack Daniel's suite at the Hotel Monte Vista. But apparently John Wayne did while he was a guest!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Road Trip, Summer 2011: Route 66. Day 3.

Route: Tucumcari, New Mexico to Holbrook, Arizona.

Breakfast at Cline's Corners, New Mexico. The coffee was strong and so was the morality:

Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico. Max and I toured a still-inhabited ancient pueblo village on the top of a 367-foot mesa. Our tour guide, Joseph, was amazing, but it was incredibly hot on the top of the bluff. And I somehow thought Birkenstocks would be appropriate footwear. Nonetheless, our visit was totally cool and I highly recommend a detour from Route 66 to see Sky City.

Me climbing down from the mesa on the original stone steps. In Birkenstocks.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Road Trip, Summer 2011: Route 66. Day 2.

The Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico. One of the "most historic hotels on Route 66," I found it listed on my Route 66 iPhone app and made reservations a few days before. (As is the Cattlemen's Steakhouse, it's listed in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.)

Our car stall, with a mural of Easy Rider.

I always wanted to stay in Tucumcari because Lee Van Cleef stopped a train there in For A Few Dollars More. I was sad to discover that the city of Tucumcari didn't exist until 1908, long after the movie action took place.

My son and I arrived in the early afternoon. After checking in with Nancy at the Blue Swallow, we tried our best to ignore the 100 degree heat and went mural spotting through the town. (I didn't take any photos of the murals, though?)

Later we hung out in front of our room and chatted with the other motel guests.

Sorry for the rambling. I'm writing from LA; we drove in from Flagstaff today and arrived in the late afternoon...2 beers, one large Father's Office burger later and I'm really tired! Tomorrow: Day 3.
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