Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Good Bye 2014!

It's time to say goodbye to 2014 and look towards a new year. I always look forward to a fresh start or a new year. It's rather like starting a new school year, anything could happen! This year we are very low key as my entire family has been down with a nasty variation of a cold since the 23rd of December. So good bye 2014! 2015, can't wait to meet you!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Traditional vs. Prep?

Here's a question for any one out there who still might be reading this blog, is there a difference between being traditional which I have recently seen abbreviated as "Trad" and being "Preppy"? I'm at work this week and things are quite and slow so I was reading one of my favorite blogs, The Daily Prep and found this post discussing the subject. I had always considered the two things to be somewhat synonymous but reading the post and the comments was interesting. It is true that there has been an explosion of "preppy lifestyle" blogs recently, not that this is a bad thing but it seems like "Prep" may be slightly more flamboyant than "Trad". I personally do not fit the classic definition of "Prep". I grew up out West in California and although I attended college at a small New England university, returned home for law school and live in the Bay Area now. I have however, always been traditional, both in dress and actions. I have variously been described by family and friends as conservative (although not politically), traditional and preppy. I believe in manners and write thank you notes on my monogramed stationary and so do my kids. I value education and charity and believe in giving back. All of these seem like traditional values and yet some what prep. The comments on the linked post above seemed to say that someone who was "trad" was a grown up "prep" but one commenter seemed to sum it up best and said ""trad" can be used to described a person with quiet good manners, a preference for classic clothing, a decent education or at least good critical-thinking skills, a preference for a quite lifestyle and a good strong sense of ethics. There are more descriptors I could use, but basically a trad is someone with good taste and good manners who tries to do the right thing and feels a sense of obligation to others and to the world." That says it all. It certainly describes me as I see myself. Trad or Prep, does it matter?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holiday Glamour

 One of our holiday traditions is the annual Hunt Ball. This is a lovely party held at a very fancy club. My parents are the Master of Foxhounds in our local hunt and both my sister and I were whippers in prior to the arrival of our small ones. My daughter CMB and my niece both go out with us now. CMB also attends the event. Above is a picture of my hubby and I. It's fun to get all dressed up and party. One of our members was a concert pianist before he went to law school so he plays carols and everyone sings at the end of the night.
                                                                Hubby, CMB and me,
                                                                 CMB and my father
CMB dancing with her grand father. My dad has always been a great dancer but was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's which is one of the reasons CMB attends this party at age 11. I want her to remember dancing with her grand father before he can't any more.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Prepping for the Holidays

One of my very favorite blogs to read is The Daily Prep. I love the authentic feel and down to earth vibe. I'm not living in New England any longer and am originally from out West anyway but the values I was brought up with and am trying to pass on to my family are similar. I wanted to share the fabulous list of Christmas music from that site. Click here for the original post which has some fabulous pictures.

My personal favorite is the Classic Christmas Carols from the Choir of King's College in Cambridge. I also love the Nutcracker of course. Do you have favorites?

Some suggestions (with links to playable music samples on Amazon):

Friday, December 19, 2014

Complients of the Season

One of my favorite of our holiday traditions is the Nutcracker. When I was a child, we went very year. Now that I have kids, my parents take my daughter and I as well as my sister and her children every year to San Francisco. My two boys don't attend and neither do either husbands. We ride the train up from down the Peninsula, a nice lunch and attend a matinee.  The SF Nutcracker is a little different. Unlike the more traditional versions, the Nutcracker Prince is played by an adult male dancer, not a boy. As a result. the final Grand Pas des Deux is danced by the Nutcracker Prince and Clara, transformed by the Sugar Plum Fairy's magic into an adult woman for that one dance. The Sugar Plum Fairy dances what would be the Rose Fairy role in a traditional performance. It's a bit different but the dancing this year was the best so far. I admit I prefer the more traditional staging but it is a beautiful performance and the Opera House in SF is beautiful! Above is my daughter, CMB. She's 11 now and we have been going every year since she was 3.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dressed Up Dinning

Now that we have school aged kids and a crazy life (3 basketball games, one school concert and 2 office parties are already on the calendar this week) we rarely get all dressed up and go out, just the two of us. When all 5 of us go out it's usually to our favorite sushi place or someplace equally casual and hubby and I are the same. Add to that the fact that we live in the Bay Area where fleece is considered "fancy" and dressy dining just doesn't happen that often. However, it's a wonderful treat when it does and one I still dream about doing more. The Brooks Brother Magazine (yes there is such a thing) has a lovely feature this month on places where dressing up to dine is a must. Yes, they are all in NYC, but a girl can dream!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Just Because

I do a post with this picture every December just because I love it. This model, I don't recall her name, was my favorite J Crew model back in what I think of as "the good old days" of J Crew. She's happy and smiling and I love the clothes and colors. I have this coat in red and it's as perfect as the day I purchased it. Sometimes I think I'd love to find that skirt in yellow and create this look reversed but I never have. It's just a picture that makes me feel happy and that's what the Holidays are for right?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Advent Calendar Traditions

When you think of Advent Calendars, usually the first thing that comes to mind are the ones with little paper doors that you opened each morning to find a little chocolate as a child. I've done those with my kids too but when I was growing up my mom made an advent calendar that had little pockets. Each morning there was a note or maybe a little gift. Sometimes the note just said something nice, sometimes it announced a holiday themed family fun like hot chocolate and a holiday movie. When there was a gift it was a small token, like candy canes or maybe a lip gloss. My sister and I called the magic person responsible the "Advent Fairy" and we loved it so much that our freshman year a college, the Advent Fairy sent each of us a package with a little something each day until we came home to the calendar! Now that we are grown, my sister was the lucky one to whom the Advent calendar came and every year, for several years I planned to make my own. This year I finally did and the product is above. This morning there were little chocolate Santa's but on Saturday we baked holiday cookies as a family and then ate them after dinner with hot chocolate while watching Home Alone. Tomorrow? Who knows? The Advent Fairy hasn't decided yet! Do you have any Advent Calendar traditions?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Holiday Attire for Young Ladies

This is the time of year for Holiday parties and dressing up. Not a problem for me, I have several lovely frocks that just don't get out enough. Dressing my lovely daughter is a challenge this year. At 11 and in the 6th grade, she is to old for smocked dresses and mary janes. And at 5 feet 4 inches tall with super long legs and blond hair as well as starting to have a young ladies body, that type of dress just wouldn't work, even if she was willing to wear one. However, she's not old enough for the short, tight "teen" dresses shown in catalogues and at the mall. Let me add that no matter how old she is, that type of dress doesn't fly at my house. She is a young lady, not a young street walker. Enter this beautiful dress from, where else, but Brooks Brothers. It's 100% silk, lined and lovely. Just mature enough but not to much. With slightly sheer black tights and black velvet ballet flats and the pearls my parents gave her for her First Communion. Sounds perfect to me, what do you think?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Now, the Holiday Season May Most Merrily Commence!

I know I ranted all last week about enjoying Thanksgiving before jumping into Christmas. And I did enjoy Thanksgiving. We went to my parents and spent some lovely time with my Mom and Dad as well as my Grandmother who is 93 as well as my sister and her family. Sunday, however, all bets were off and I dove head first into the Holiday Spirit. Our family tradition is to cut down our own tree over in Half Moon Bay. We then have lunch at our favorite sea food place on the water and bring home Dungeness crab right off the boat for dinner. Here is our tree all decked out. Does your family have any special tree decorating traditions?

Friday, November 21, 2014

In Tartan we Trust

I love tartan plaids. Maybe it's my Catholic school upbringing, maybe it's my inner prep. Most of my personal plaid items are the navy and green Black Watch Plaid. My families horse farm growing up was called Black Watch Hill. I like it because, unlike the bright red and green plaids it doesn't totally scream Christmas. I also love the Brooks Brother's Signature Tartan which is a navy, burgundy, camel and green pattern. They have a really interesting short article in their online magazine about their tartan.

 I love both this silk chiffon ruffled scarf above and the cashmere Ruana below. Classic and understated. Just how I like it!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Being Mindful

The holiday season is almost upon us with all the excess it implies. Some how, what should be a wonderful joyous experience always seems to devolve into a frenzy of shopping and buying things. One of the things I have been striving for this fall and am trying to hold onto in an attempt to remain centered this season is the concept of mindfulness. Thinking before I buy and trying to enjoy the little thing without getting caught up in the frenzied pressure to create a perfect holiday. A great resource is the blog Into Mind. There is a focus on simplicity and thoughtfulness that I have found very helpful. Just thought I would share in the hopes of helping others!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Celebrating Thanksgiving

I'm stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that Christmas is sneaking into my Thanksgiving. So while red cups abound and I'm starting to see posts about great holiday gifts, I'm going to share a great blog called Champagne & Macaroons. I found this beautiful blog in my wanderings while celebrating my inner French girl. There are beautiful pictures of Paris and a wonderful spread about Thanksgiving entertaining. But what I thought sounded yummy was this recipe for Pumpkin white hot chocolate.


1 cup of heavy cream

2 cups of milk – I use skim milk

1 cup of good quality white chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin spice

Whipped cream and additional pumpkin spice to sprinkle on top.


1. Heat cream and milk in a pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until hot but not boiling.

2. In a medium sized bowl, pour heated cream and milk over white chocolate chips. Stir until chips are melted.

3. Add vanilla extract and pumpkin spice.

4. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin spice.

A few tips:

Keep a close eye on the milk and cream mixture – once it is hot, turn off the flame. It doesn’t need to come to a boil.

Use good quality white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate. The flavor and sweetness of white chocolate really varies. I have found the Ghirardelli white chocolate chips to have the best taste and have been able to find them at almost every grocery store.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thanksgiving People!

It's still fall people! I feel the need to remind everyone that Thanksgiving is still over a week away. There are red cups in my Starbucks and holiday items in my Target but I am resolutely avoiding it. I love the Holiday season but Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays within that Holiday season. It's about food and family and somehow I feel like that gets lost in our rush for Christmas goodies. As much as I love Christmas, some years I feel overwhelmed by the pressure for perfect memories. Somehow, I always end up sick and stressed at the end. So turn down those jingle bells and step away from the red cups people. Let's take some time to relax and be thankful!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Finding My Inner French Girl

I've always been drawn to the "French Girl" books about the mystical way of life a of a French woman. Now, I suspect that this is at least partially a myth or at the very least a huge exaggeration. However, the image appealed and I started by the road looking for my inner French girl.

The first place I started was my wardrobe. Over time it had become disjointed and drifted from who I really was. Bottom line is that I am a very conservative, traditional dresser. I went shopping a few times with my sister who is an elementary school teacher and dresses more J. Jill than Brooks Brothers and I began to drift.

I found an amazing blog called The Vivienne Files. She is a lovely blogger and has a great series about starting a wardrobe from scratch and choosing colors. My main colors are navy blue and gray. I also use white, red and hunter green. I have been ruthlessly editing my closet and keeping really only the things of better quality. This is the few items but better quality aspect that you will hear a lot about if you read books about the life of "The French Woman". Although, I think it is a more common trait among Europeans in general. My Swedish friend totally swears by this.  It's not necessarily and easy transition but I am trying to move to only buying things that I love, and love me back.

I'll post about the other ways I am "finding" my inner French Girl in the days to come but for now, I have decided that her name is Collette! What about you?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fall Treats, not Tricks

I admit I like apple as the flavor and scent of fall, almost more than pumpkin. Might have something to do with my parents living on 25 acres of apple orchards? Any way, I found this wonder recipe on The Glitter Guide  and just had to share. Doesn't it sounds delicious?


  • 2 oz vodka
  • 2 oz apple cider
  • 1 tsp thyme-infused simple syrup
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Thyme (to garnish)


For the thyme-infused simple syrup: Mix equal parts sugar and water with a few sprigs of thyme over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Let cool for 5 minutes while thyme steeps. Strain.
For the martini: Combine vodka, simple syrup, cider and lime juice in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and pour into a chilled glass. Garnish with thyme.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Brooks Brothers

I love Brooks Brothers, hands down my favorite place. When I worked in downtown SF I used to walk up to their store just off Union Square and wanted around, just enjoying the ambiance. I think I mentioned that I have been doing some serious thinking about what style was truly me and editing my closet to reflect it. Brooks Brothers is the best representation of that for me. I love the look above. Their signature tartan is one of my favorites. It's navy and red and green and a little camel thrown in. All my favorite colors! I have a cashmere ruana from Brooks Brothers in a bright red that my hubby have me for Christmas that I love. In our more temperate climate here in Northern California, I often wear it over a blazer during the winter instead of a coat. Especially now that I'm not commuting via BART. But what I love about Brooks Brothers isn't just this look, it's the embrace of the put together.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fall Treats

My parents live on an apple orchard that is about 25 acres. Much of it is leased to a commercial company that uses them for cider but there are still plenty of apple left over in the fall for yummy treats. While on the hunt for something new, I found the above, mini apple pies, baked in muffin tins! Both the picture and the recipe come from here. I haven't made this yet but it is on my list for this weekend!.

Muffin Tin Apple PiesMakes 6 pies in a Texas muffin pan 
Pastry dough

  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 sticks frozen butter (1 cup)
  • 10 Tbsp. ice-cold water

  • 6 large Granny Smith apples
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, plus more for greasing
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. maple sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Coarse sugar, for sprinkling
In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt and brown sugar several times. Cut the frozen butter into 8 pieces, add it to the flour mixture, and pulse until the butter is combined and the mixture is the consistency of coarse bread crumbs.
With the food processor on low, add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together. 
Place the dough on a floured surface, knead a few times and form it into a ball. Cut the dough in half, flatten it into two disks, wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or overnight). 
While the dough is chilling, peel the apples and cut them into ½-inch dice. In a pan on medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the apples, cinnamon and sugar and toss to combine.
Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the apples are still firm, but can be just pierced with a fork. Set the apples aside to cool slightly. 
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a muffin tin liberally with butter.
Place the chilled dough on a well-floured surface and roll it out to about ¼-inch thickness, and set it aside. Repeat with the second piece of dough. 
Cut out 6 circles of dough to fit the muffin tins, then press each one evenly into the tin to fill the base and line the sides; the dough should be even with the top of the tin.
Cut the dough for the top crusts (they suggest a drinking glass works as a size gauge), and cut a small opening in each.
Fill the pies to the brim with apples.
Use a finger to lightly moisten the edges of the top crusts and bottom crusts with the beaten egg wash to help the pies stay together.
Place the top crusts on—egg wash side down—and press each down gently to connect with the bottom crusts. Brush the tops of the pies with egg wash, and sprinkle with coarse sugar. 
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the crusts are nice and golden. Allow the pies to cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the muffin tin. 

Serve with vanilla ice cream. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Fun Find, Paper Source

In my rambling around the internet I found a cool company called Paper Source and ordered this fun craft kit from them for the upcoming Christmas season. The kit comes with all the supplies necessary to make this neat poinsettia wreath. Click here to go to the page.
They also have this beautiful peony one which you can find here. It looks a little harder than the poinsettia one so I think I am going to wait until I complete the first one before ordering but I am already picturing how perfect it will be on my front door at Easter! They also have cards and stationary and a bunch of other cool craft kits. I'll report back once I complete the wreath above and let you know how it goes but I think they are well worth taking a look! Happy Monday to everyone!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Proper Table Settings

I know, I know, once again I have been gone for ages. If you are still out there checking in, my humblest apologies. Life has been insane but I keep finding that something pulls me back to this blog so here I am. I've been doing a lot of thinking and fine tuning bits and pieces of my life recently so I have lots to share. In the mean time, as the holiday season approaches, I saw this on Pinterest and thought it seemed like a good thing to share. I have been working hard on the manners of the three kids in my life and table setting has been a recent focus. My  biggest weaknesses has always been remembering whether the spoon goes inside the knife or vice versa. I'm not hosting Thanksgiving this year, my mom is but I'm sure I will be setting the table (not to mention doing dishes!)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Monday Dress Boutique

I've been a fan of Marley Lilly for some time and consider it on of my go to places for monogramed gifts and cute looks. The same folks have launched The Monday Dress Boutique and there's some cute stuff. I am really liking the red and white striped skirt and the sailboat tunic below. Click here to check it out.