Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Remembrance

While my mantel says Happy Halloween, it never will be again, at least not the way it used to be.  Up until last year, Halloween was my second favorite holiday.  Then came the car accident that changed my life.

You see last year on Halloween, my brother was in a car accident on the way to pick up my nephew.  Broad daylight, clear as day.  We have no idea why he went off the road and hit that tree.  It was on a country road, far from traffic.  He was prone to falling asleep.  He never drank.  It just doesn’t make sense.

While his heart kept beating until December, I lost the vibrant man who was my brother last Halloween.

I kept a low key Halloween this year.  I decorated earlier in the month while I was still in a brighter frame of mind.  And then as the day got closer and closer, I fell more into a funk.  I would have liked to just keep it quiet and watch something dark and scary to match my black mood, but I baked cookies with my darling boy instead.  Can’t drag my little one down, he doesn’t understand.

So here I sit, typing away, knowing that fall will be changed forever.  Next will come the Thanksgiving he won’t be able to attend.  And then the dreaded Christmas.  I hope I can see past the dark and focus on what I know he would want us to do.  He was so fun-loving and family-oriented.  He’d have wanted me to put on something macabre tonight and be silly with my boy.  I was silly, in a quiet way – rolling cookie dough in sanding sugar can never be too serious, especially when it turns your tongue colors.

But I’m still in the mood to focus on the past instead of celebrating the present.  I won’t keep doing this.  I won’t drag you down with the details.  Sillier, boozier posts will recommence.  I just needed a night to reflect.

'Bye for Now,

Friday, October 21, 2011

Maui Madness, or the Vintage Vacation That Wasn’t

Some of you may be asking, why in the world is she writing about a Maui vacation that took place in August in October?  Well, it is because I only just got some of the photos in, so I can finally put this post to rest once they’re posted.   

We love Hawaii and go there when we can.  Hubby Dearest proposed on Waikiki Beach.  We were married in Maui.  We got four feet away from flowing lava on the Big Island a few months before we conceived Little Man.  I used to dance hula.  So when we decided to go again, I couldn’t wait.

I made grand plans about how my photos from this vacation would be different, to reflect my vintage interests.  I sewed and bought and packed 7 pairs of vintage shoes to go with my vintage ensembles.  You see, I thought I would have stellar poses like this.

 Photo from Amy Jeanne's gorgeous blog and Flickr set.

Instead I got this.

I'm just keeping it real, folks.

What happened, you ask?  Reality of an equatorial vacation, that’s what.  You see, just two days after we arrived, we took a boat trip to Lanai.  And as I was so busy putting sunscreen on Little Man, I neglected to put it on my legs.  So this happened.

Yes, while the photos only show one, I sunburned two hand prints into my leg.  So wearing skirts was out, and not just for vanity’s sake.  Any time the sun hit my legs, it felt like they went up in fire.  Between that and the excruciating swelling and limping I was experiencing from the burn to my legs, I was like Lucy in Hollywood, when she got the really bad sunburn and modeled in the Don Loper fashion show.  So I had to wear pants the rest of the time we were in Hawaii to protect my skin.  There went my vintage Hawaiian photo dreams!  And, yes, you can still see the hand print tan two months later.

So what with my photo plans busted, I just said screw it and tried to enjoy the rest of my vacation in plain jane jeans and yoga pants.  I didn’t care a scrap if my vintage ‘do got soaked in the pool, because I didn’t sport one.  Red lipstick?  How can you keep red lipstick on when you’re snorkeling?  And all those gorgeous vintage and vintage-styled shoes I brought?  They went right back into the suitcase.  Except for one pair.

My shoes in their native habitat of a Maui beach.

We did some of the typical things on Maui. 
 View of Honolua Bay from a helicopter.  I’ve snorkeled there before.

 Visited Iao Valley.

 Took sunrise photos (this one looking up at Haleakala.)

 Spent a lot of time in the swimming pool (and I show this only as proof that I actually wore Norma.)

mai tai Mama's Fish House Maui by Lady by Choice
 Consumed copious mai tais (this one was at Mama’s Fish House.)  Trust me, while some call this restaurant a tourist trap, they’re smoking crack.  Very busy.  Very expensive.  But on a gorgeous beach, with stellar food.  I don’t eat fish.  I ate fish and I wanted to lick my plate clean (ono [the fish] is ono [the Hawaiian word for mmm, good.]).  The menu even tells you what boat, what boat captain, and where in the islands your fish was caught.  Favorite restaurant on the island.
Maui sunset by Lady by Choice

Maui sunset by Lady by Choice

Maui sunset by Lady by Choice

Maui sunset by Lady by Choice
 And saw many a Hawaiian sunset.

And things I won’t post photos of like…

Ate lots of shave ice at Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice ( Homemade mango syrup with macadamia nut ice cream in the bottom for me, please!), swam in the ocean with a sting ray, boated alongside a hundred spinner dolphins, watched a dog surfing, took a nap while listening to waves crashing, and relaxed more than I have ever relaxed on a vacation.

But before the sunburn debacle, we had a professional photo shoot on the beach (remember those photos I said I was waiting on?)  No, not a pinup shoot.  I’m talking family photo shoot.  Call me strange to do a professional family photo shoot on vacation, but who else of you can say your Christmas shopping for your parents and in-laws is now taken care of?  I didn’t think so.  Two years ago when we took photos with this photographer, I literally couldn’t pick a favorite, as there were so many!  This time, not so much.  Not because he is a bad photographer, but because I thought I would change it up and not go so “pose-y”.  I wanted casual, relaxed, something like out of a catalog.  Um, try getting a posed shot out of a seven-year-old, much less a casual shot, timed when a wave is crashing up in the distance.  Compound that with two parents trying to wrangle the Little Man, and you can understand how I was pretty disappointed with the photos (at least compared to my last session.)  The one group photo of us I like was, you guessed it, posed.  There were some stunning photos of Little Man alone, most of which I won’t post here (being a protective mama bear), but the family variety were definitely lacking.  However, we did get the one good shot, so I’m going to count my blessings.

Maui family portrait at Lady by Choice
This isn't posed.  Really.  See below of a photo we took of him on our last day there.  
He just likes staring out at the ocean.  Our little lord of the sea.

Maui family portrait at Lady by Choice

Maui family portrait at Lady by Choice

Two months late, but hopefully worth it.

It may not have been my vintage Maui dream vacation, but it was, sunburn and all, pretty sweet.

'Bye for Now,

Monday, October 17, 2011

Frankenstein and the Gang at the Old Town Music Hall

Several of my friends and I gussied up and gathered at the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo to catch the 1931 version of Frankenstein with Boris Karloff.  The movie was preceded by a couple of Laurel and Hardy shorts.

Old Town Music Hall by Lady by Choice

The Old Town Music Hall is a quaint little theater that showcases both silent and early sound films as well as concerts.  While we didn’t get to hear it, the theater is home to a Wurlitzer pipe organ saved from the Fox West Coast Theater in Long Beach.  The theater, originally called the El Segundo State Theater, was built in the 1920s, but the organ wasn’t installed until 1968.

Old Town Music Hall by Lady by Choice

The interior contains a quirky collection of art.  Not exactly a movie palace, but nostalgic none the less.  Had I paid attention to the calendar, I might have seen earlier that Janet Klein was playing there that night and made other arrangements.  I love her!

Old Town Music Hall by Lady by Choice

Old Town Music Hall by Lady by Choice
After the movie, we walked down the street to the Purple Orchid, a tacky and fabulous tiki bar.  I stuck with the tiki drink menu, which were all tasty and well-done.  Gotta love drinks with plastic monkeys and paper umbrellas.  Between us we tried to create a brigade of monkeys, but didn’t invest the time, or the gullet, needed to put on a full-scale attack.

Speaking of tiki and tropical fabulousness, next post shall bore you with my adventures in Hawaii.

'Bye for Now,

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

Just a quick post to share my birthday happiness with you.  No, not my blogaversary, as I completely blew past that one in August, but my actual birthday.  Since it is a worknight, we just did a quick dinner at Beckham Grill (yummy sidecars) with cupcakes afterwards.  Saturday, we'll celebrate a little more at Disneyland.

However, what I really wanted to show you was my new goodie - a completely frivolous present I've wanted forever.

A concert ukulele!  Do I know how to play?  Nope!  But I hope to change that.  Now if I complain I've always wanted to play, I'll know the only person I can blame if I'm not playing is me.  So, yay for birthdays!

'Bye for Now,

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Blog Award - My Blog is Irresistibly Sweet!

Thanks to the lovely and talented Nabby at This Old Life, I’ve been given a blog award - the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award!  Merci, Madame!  Nabby’s blog is just delicious.  What she can craft out of fabric and vintage patterns is amazing.

In exchange for receiving the award I must share seven facts about myself.  Hmmm, where to start? 

1) I learned how to sew when I was in college.  I took a year of theatrical costuming and made garments for the various plays that were put on.

2) I met my husband when we were both historical reenactors.  The Renaissance, to be exact, in the Society for Creative Anachronism.  We were set up by friends of ours.  To be specific, his “knight”, the “king” at the time (I only put the terms in quotes because if you’re not in the Society, you’ll go, “huh?”) said, “I think you should ask her if you can fight for her honor.”  And so he has, for the past 20 years.

3) When I was pregnant with my son, we were in a horrible car accident.  A 70-miles-an-hour-flying-down-the-freeway-lose-control-of-the-car-hit-a-semi kind of accident.  I was the passenger in the car.  It made me a different person.  We are all still alive and safe, fortunately, and I never take that for granted.  Somehow, my seatbelt miraculously situated itself so it rested under my pregnant belly so the impact was on my hipbones and not my belly when we hit.  I didn’t put it there consciously when I got in the car.  I don’t know how it happened, but someone or something was looking after me that day. 

4) For over 15 years, I did Polynesian dance.  Hawaiian, Tahitian, and Maori.  I competed and went through many a show wearing nothing more than coconuts, bark cloth, foliage and shells.  But I never got to wear a cellophane skirt, dang it!

5) I am a very shy person, but in high school I decided to try to overcome my fear.  So I became a yell leader and could lead a cheer solo in front of thousands of people.  It didn’t help my fear though.  I still quake in my boots at the thought of speaking in crowds.  

6) I can cook, but am completely incapable of cooking anything without a recipe.  My family of pioneer cooking women looks upon me with disdain.

7) People can usually never guess what my racial background is.  I’ve gotten various Latin countries, Greek, Eastern European, and Italian.  But I’m Cherokee and German.  Just like Rambo.

In order to share in the blogging award pleasure, I’d now like to share with you some of my favorites and give them the warm/fuzzy feel of a blog award too!  If she hadn’t given me the award, I would have had Nabby at the top of my list, as she is so creative and elegant in her styling.  But I won’t be a regifter, so here are some others I enjoy.  I’m sure they’ve been presented this or other stylish blog awards already.  But they’re still swell.

If you choose to accept this mission, just give me a shout out, list seven facts about yourself, and share the love by listing some other blogs on your favorites list.  

'Bye for Now,

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Girl Effect

I don't normally get into social issues in this blog, but I'd like to take a brief post to talk about something that means a great deal to me.

As a woman, I am very fortunate to have been blessed with an excellent education and the choices that my society has afforded me.  As a blogger in a free country, I am able to speak my mind and share with you those things I find interesting and relevant, at least in my little corner of the world.  I can wear what I want (especially on this blog), say what I want, and think what I want.  And so today I will take a little departure from my usual vintage happenings and will join bloggers around the world to talk about choices – choices we have that many young girls and women do not.

I was free to go to college.  I was free to choose my partner for life.  I was free to choose to have children when I was ready.  But that is not the case for girls in the developing world.  The plight of millions of girls across the world has largely been ignored.   But let’s take a look at some of the stats, shall we, courtesy of a little website I’d like to share with you – The Girl Effect.

-    An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school raises her wages by 15 to 25 percent.

-    However, approximately one-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school.

-    One girl in seven in developing countries marries before age 15; 38 percent marry before age 18.

-    One-quarter to one-half of girls in developing countries become mothers before age 18; 14 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth in developing countries each year.

-    Medical complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide. Compared with women ages 20 to 24, girls ages 10 to 14 are five times more likely to die from childbirth, and girls 15 to 19 are up to twice as likely, worldwide.

I had a son, but had I had a girl, or had I not been born in the country I was born in, our lives could have been drastically different.   Maybe you have daughters.  Can you imagine this life for them?  Can you imagine what your life would be like had you been given the lack of choices these girls are?

So let the free-thinking, vintage-wearing, saucy women of today, and the men who love them, think for a bit about the plight of our younger sisters around the world.  If you choose, join me and other bloggers for The Girl Effect Blogging Campaign, happening during this week of October 4th-11th, 2011.  Let us be the voice of girls whose voices are silenced by the world around them and stand up for girls to get an education, stand on their own two feet and change the world around them.

And now back to your regularly scheduled vintage programming.

'Bye for Now,

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pumpkin Picking - Colonial Style

Saturday morning we made our annual first-weekend-in-October trip to Oak Glen.  It wasn't so much a vintage-style outing as an antique-style outing.  Being a city girl, you’d think I’d be used to city pumpkin patches.  Nice plots of concrete with bits of hay strewn about and a bounce house.  Nothing says Halloween more than asphalt and porta-potties!  Needless to say, I’ve always been less than thrilled, so as soon as I found out about Oak Glen when Little Man was just a babe, I high-tailed it out there and we’ve been going ever since.  

Oak Glen is a small community nestled in the foothills near Yucaipa.  Known for its apple orchards, trolling through Oak Glen you’ll pass farm after farm touting their orchards, berries, apple pies, and apple cider.  We always go to the same place, year after year – Riley’s Farm.  Riley’s Farm is a little different in that they approach their operation with a bit of living history.  One side of the farm has more of an old west feel.  The other has a Colonial America feel.  And all of the folks that work there dress up in the attire of either era.  55 acres of the farm are open to the public and they have everything from u-pick fruit (with a calendar on their website so you can see what is ripe), dining, shopping, and special evening living history dining events, such as Sleepy Hollow, the Harvest Feast, Christmas in the Colonies, that sort of thing.

Riley's Farm by Lady by Choice

I went with giant sun hat in tow with the intention of picking apples (for my annual apple pie orgy) and our Halloween pumpkins, but even though the calendar said there were apples available, the pickings were slim and the crowds that were there were scavenging every tree around.  So, no apples for us this year.  Must remember next time I need to make two trips to Riley’s – one in September for apples and the October trip for pumpkins.  Yes, I could just buy apples in the store, but they have winesaps and I love winesaps for apple pies.  Can’t find them in the store. 

Riley's Farm pumpkins by Lady by Choice

So we settled for our pumpkins, fresh off the vine – three Rouge Vif D'Etamps (they look like Cinderella pumpkins).  They have a few different varieties, including white pumpkins, so you can take your pick.  However, I think they need to pay more attention to how their pumpkins are grown.  While we didn’t have many problems with our Cinderella pumpkins, many of the other kinds of pumpkins had been left growing on their sides, so almost all were flattened and pale on one side.  I know nothing about growing pumpkins, but I’d think you could, as they were growing, make sure they are growing on their “butt”, so to speak, and not on their side.  You’d yield more usable pumpkins, I’d think.  Of course, I have no idea if that would weaken the stem or not - just me and my city girl notions.  And here's a tip for picking fresh pumpkins - bring work gloves.  Some of the pumpkins have a bristly stem that makes picking them off the vine uncomfortable.

Riley's Farm pumpkins by Lady by Choice

By the time we had finished, we were starving, so we headed to the Colonial side to the Hawk’s Head Publick House for lunch.  It is served in a reproduction Colonial building, with rustic furnishings and pewter tankards.  The wait was long, but my God was it worth it.  I wasn’t expecting much, as in prior years I had had the barbecue they serve at the Packing Shed.  There the food is o.k., but because they are serving crowds, and I like chicken, well, it is hard doing chicken for a crowd.  But I was knocked out by the food at the Hawk’s Head.  It is smaller with table service, not a grub fest where you line up at the grill and stand there with your plate.  First they start you with fresh baked bread (a generous portion too, not a skimpy one-slice-per-person serving).  As I was parched, I asked for a hard cider.  They brought a huge bottle of Julian cider, which was easily two tankards full.  Yum!  I had the chicken pot pie, and it was creamy with huge chunks of chicken breast, vegetables, gravy, and a buttery crust.  Even the side dish of green beans was scrumptious.  Hubby was equally happy with his bratwurst sandwich. All of our dishes were served with a side of homemade apple sauce (it’s chunky and cinnamony-good.)  As we were gorging on our food, we were serenaded with a small band playing early period music.   

Riley's Farm Hawk's Head Publick House by Lady by Choice

Riley's Farm Hawk's Head Publick House by Lady by Choice

Riley's Farm Hawk's Head Publick House by Lady by Choice

And our server, Miss Angela, served everything with a smile and a brave attempt at Colonial English.  Hubby Dearest and I said we would definitely make our way back here and I hope I don’t have to wait another year to do it.

And there you have it – our Colonial culinary adventures/picking frenzy.  See ya next year, Riley’s.

Riley's Farm by Lady by Choice

'Bye for Now,


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