wishing everyone a peaceful new year

winter skincare

Just in case you thought I had dropped off the planet...I give you this unedited video of me. The video contains a few winter skincare tips and a few errors.  It really was done in good fun.  I hope you learn something and get a good laugh.

Also, thank you to everyone for their warm holiday wishes.


the big yellow house

Hi everyone.  Before the rain hit Southern California with a vengeance, I was out and about with my camera.  I have long admired this beautiful Queen Anne Victorian and decided to take a few pictures.  I knocked on the door but no one was home.  I was acquainted with the woman who lived here so I took a chance and snapped a few pictures hoping to get her permission to post them on my blog later.  A few days later while driving by I saw that she was home and not only did she give me permission, she invited me inside to take a few more.  I did not have my tripod which I really needed because the interior is dark.  But anyway I hope you will enjoy this amazing home as much as I did.

As I mentioned above, the home is a classic Queen Anne Victorian built in 1891.  Sue and her husband have lived here for the last 15 years lovingly restoring it to its original beauty.  She said the entire interior had been painted white.  Sue works in the antique business and has amassed an amazing collection of fine antiques.  She does not do reproductions, even the garden urns are antiques.  The interior is all dressed for Christmas.  I hope you enjoy the tour...

Built in 1891 - a Perfect Queen Anne Victorian

The clipped boxwood is spectacular.  They planted the entire garden.

An antique fountain complete with moss.

Lets go inside...

Upon entering you are first struck by this beautiful chandelier and the gorgeous woodwork.

You get the feeling this isn't going to be your average home.

The hand-carved wood details are just beautiful.

This is the front parlor to the left.
Sue has an amazing collection of antique feather Christmas trees and antique ornaments.
I lost track of how many trees she has.

A beautiful rare, white peacock.

The dining room.
So much to see in here.

Another view of the dining room.

Sue's husband worked in the grocery business so they created a replica of an authentic Victorian country store.  This room really is more like a museum.  There is an Indian trading section and civil war memorabilia too.  They give tours to local elementary schools.
And yes, that is a buffalo head.

This is the path that leads to the backyard.

An antique fence post.

A little knot garden.

More antique urns.

The pool gazebo filled with antique garden furniture

A little vignette under the orange trees.

Thank you so much Sue for sharing your home with me and now with the world.  It is so obvious how much your home is loved.

Merry Christmas


christmas ~ past and present

  I thought it would be fun to look back over the last three years and see how our cottage has evolved.  We moved in just two days before Christmas three years ago.    The above photo was taken before I even had a blog.   After 7 weeks of 18 hour days we moved in.  I cannot tell you how happy we were that day. 

The Dining Room. 

There is my Pendleton blanket faithfully doing duty as a tablecloth.
We were expecting a full house this day.

The Kitchen
This is the first picture taken of the completed kitchen.  I remember when Larry showed me it I cried because I thought it was so beautiful.  I especially loved the cabinetry because I thought each cabinet looked like a piece of furniture.
We had a full house of company and it was so much fun.

Let's move on to last year...

The Living Room Year #2
The room is now painted Simply White by Benjamin Moore.
 I also added a large mirror with small ironstone plates lining the sides.
Take note of that orchid in the corner.

The Dining Room
The highlight was this beautiful hydrangea that a co-worker had given me.
 It is now living happily in my garden.

The Kitchen 

The blue toile valances are gone and I replaced them with white cotton drapes.  I added the shelf above the stove but I never liked it there.

Okay, let's get to this year's decorating...Year #3

I apologize for the bad lighting but it was extremely bright today and I could not get the lighting right.
The small tree is a boxwood shrub that I'll put in my boxwood garden after Christmas.

The lighting here is a little better.  The main change in the living room is the addition of the mirror above the sofa.  I found the frame at a yard sale and had a piece of mirror cut to fit it.  The whole thing came to $60.  Unbelievable because the frame dates from the 1890's.

Detail of frame.

Pencil etching by my dear friend Sarah's talented husband, Ian.

The Dining Room
Remember the orchid I told you to take note of?  This is it and it's going to re-bloom.  This actually makes me feel like a real gardener.  I've never been able to get an orchid to re-bloom.   I followed the advice of my neighbor Terry, who happens to be the head gardener at Kimberly Crest Mansion.  Who am I to argue with the head gardener of a Historical Landmark?   He says the secret to getting orchids to re-bloom is for them to get ample morning sun.  So that's what I did and of course he was right.

Can you see those buds ready to bloom? 
It's the little things that really make my days.

vintage Christmas postcards that I've had for many years.

Patricia of pve design suggested turning your books around to get a pretty white vignette.
 i did and i love it.

The kitchen

This year we tiled behind the stove and added the bamboo shades.  I still cannot decide on a range hood.  I'm not even sure I want one at this point.  If you have ever worked in a restaurant and had to clean the hood you would understand my dread.

So that's it.  This Christmas I used fresh everything.  The poinsettias were gifts from neighbors and the wreaths were purchased from Trader Joes.   I just cut boxwood from the garden and stuck it here and there and the house smells heavenly.  Clean up will be easy.  The wreaths will go into the compost and the boxwood tree into the garden and the vintage postcards into a drawer. 

I'd like to take a moment to wish all my fellow bloggers and commenters a very Merry Christmas. 
I owe you all so much for your kind words and encouragement to keep my blog going. 
Thank you to everyone who takes the time to read what I write.
Merry Christmas from my house to yours.



miss doris

This is my dear neighbor, Miss Doris.  Miss Doris lives in this huge yellow Victorian home.  When I moved to Redlands 3 years ago, I would pass this house on my way to work and notice this woman always working in her garden and also walking her beloved poodle, Bobbin.  What struck me immediately about Miss Doris was the way she was dressed.   You will never catch Miss Doris walking Bobbin wearing a track suit, sweats or those nylon gym type outfits that a lot of women her age will wear.  No, every time I saw Miss Doris out walking she would be wearing a belted trench coat with a scarf and black boots.  Or if she was out doing her gardening, she would be wearing a full, flowered skirt, a blouse and cardigan.  Never grubbies, as she calls them.  She doesn't see the point.  She figures she has beautiful clothes so why not wear them everyday.  Needless to say she had a huge effect on the way I looked at my own clothing.  I no longer wear grubbies either and i thank Miss Doris for that.

I was so intrigued as to who this lady was I asked my co-workers if any of them knew her.  Turns out one of them lived next door to her!  So I asked her if she could introduce us.  The next day I finally met her and we've been friends ever since.  To top it off she shops only at thrift stores because she loves saving money and the thrill of the hunt.  She loves sewing and can deconstruct a garment and tailor it perfectly to fit her.  She also makes lace.  Who makes lace?   You cannot believe how time consuming making lace is but it is absolutely beautiful.  As I was driving by yesterday, she was out mowing her lawn and she agreed to have her picture taken.  She is wearing navy slacks, a red gingham blouse and red sweater - proper mowing attire, wouldn't you agree?

The One and Only Adorable Miss Doris


why i love ralph lauren

Unbeknownst to him, I have been in love with Ralph Lauren for many years.  I sleep in his pajamas, in between his sheets, wear his perfume, drink from his glasses, etc.  But it is his clothes that I love the most.  I love the way Ralph, year after year reinvents the same basic look.  He changes them slightly but never drastically.  This is great for someone like me who does not want to purchase a whole new wardrobe every year, it's what I'd call a sustainable style.  Every year I can add a new piece or two and by doing so my wardrobe has evolved into something that I truly love.  Whenever I stray from this look (and I have) I always come crawling back to the real me.  I grew up wearing Catholic school uniforms so it's no surprise that I'm drawn to his classic, timeless look.  His clothes are less about fashion and more about style, they represent a lifestyle, rather than what's hot at the moment.  Another really great thing is that his clothing comes in all price points, all the way from Purple Label Collection down to his Lauren line.  And it is easy to fit in other labels that line up with his aesthetic.  Ralph got his start at Brooks Brothers and you can see that he borrows heavily from that look.  Levis blend seamlessly into this look..  So for someone like me who does not lead a really fancy lifestyle but is more outdoorsy/active, his clothes are ideal.  I was recently standing in line getting coffee and a woman who looked to be in her mid 60's was in front of me.  She was wearing a pair of black pants, and her jacket was belted like i wear mine, and she had on black flats.  Her hair was in a curly silvery/blondish bob and she stood tall and looked amazing.  I realized that she could have been 20 years old wearing this outfit and would have still looked amazing.  I think that is what is so great about this look, it is ageless.

So do tell me...what's your style?

The above outfit is my Brooks Bros jacket, Double RL vest, Old Navy chambray shirt, Double RL pants, Sergio Garcia oxfords.

my library

The Smiley Brothers

Entering 'my' library is like stepping back in time and you almost feel as if you are in a home instead of a public library.  There are beautiful works of art, carved wood moldings, fireplaces, stained glass windows, oriental rugs, soft lighting and books, lots of books.  What follows is a brief history of the library and my attempt to capture how truly lovely it is through photographs.  But first, a little history of the joint...

In  December of 1891, several of Redlands prominent citizens joined together to secure a public library. Alfred Smiley, one of Redlands' winter residents from the East, became a prime mover in the crusade. After two years of effort, prodding the city trustees, and with detailed studies completed, a vote brought forth a public library in Redlands.

The A.K. Smiley Public Library was designed in Moorish style by T.R. Griffith. When completed, the Smiley featured walls of solid brick with hand-cut stone trimmings and a roof of heavy red tiling. Albert Smiley also furnished the entire building with desks, chairs, tables, and stacks-all fashioned from oak. Gargoyles, griffins, and other carving adorned the library interior. The stained-glass windows feature symbolism associated with learning and libraries.  Unique in its architecture and an official point of historical interest on the National Register of Historic Places and a California State Landmark, the A.K. Smiley Public Library has been fortunate through the years to enjoy the support of many friends, especially its many patrons.

Before we go inside the library, I thought we'd take a look around the grounds.  Smiley library sits on 16 acres which includes the Lincoln Memorial, the only museum dedicated solely to Abraham Lincoln this side of the Mississippi.  

Here is the Lincoln Memorial (this deserves it's own post too.)

The charming homes that line the street surrounding the library.

The entrance to the library is always planted with pansies, as they were A. K. Smiley's favorite flower.
let's go inside...

The Entry

a view looking toward the entry

Gargoyles and Griffins are used throughout the library

The main Reference Library

A softly lit place to study

The Heritage Room
Where people like me can research their old homes.

I love the oriental carpets and stained glass windows used throughout.

The conservatory

More oriental carpets, beautiful lighting and a view of the garden.
Over 150 magazines and periodicals to read while sitting in wicker chairs and enjoying sunshine.
If only they served coffee and tea!

There are several of these little fireplace niches that were built to curl up with a book and warm your feet at the same time.

The children's wing - a replica of the main library...

complete with it's own stained-glass windows...

and artwork. 
These two oil paintings by Dorothy Dowiatt (c. 1920) were donated by the family of Margaret Finch an avid Smiley supporter.

stacks of books...

that sit on huge slabs of white marble.

gorgeous staircases

detail of woodwork

one of the outdoor reading gardens

It truly is a beautiful place that I am so fortunate to be able to enjoy.
I hope you were able to get a feel for the place and that you enjoyed the tour.

edited note:  for my international friends, yes this library is free.  with all the recent budgetary cuts due to the wretched economy the library has cut a few hours a week but remains open 7 days a week.  generous patrons also keep new books flowing in and the redlands horticultural & improvement society help with the gardens.
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