Holidays · Uncategorized · Valentine's Day

Vintage Valentines Through the Decades.

Do you remember as a kid bringing a decorated shoe box with a slit in the top to school to collect your Valentines from your friends? Or maybe you had an art lesson where you cut out 2 hearts and sewed them together with pink yarn to create an envelope to collect your Valentines from each of your classmates during a class party? I remember doing both throughout elementary school and how much fun it was to pour through my pile of cards and treats reading each card signed personally by my friends. I loved how each one was so unique and how special they made me feel.

This Valentine’s Day, I wanted to relive the warm and fuzzy feeling of sorting through all of those unique and quirky Valentine Cards and share them with you as we explore Valentines through the decades. First, let’s rewind history and explore where Valentine’s Day got its roots.

History of Valentine’s Day

Valentines Day dates back to the pagan holiday honoring Juno-the Queen of Roman Gods and Goddesses which took place on February 14th. The holiday also has it’s more well-known roots in the stories surrounding St. Valentine who was killed on February 14th and became a martyr for his faith. Later, during the Middle Ages, people in England and France also held a belief that birds started to look for their mate starting from February 14. But it’s the Victorians who made the holiday as we know it today. Valentines in the Victorian era were flat sheets of paper often printed with colorful illustrations with embossed borders. They were folded and sealed with wax so they could be mailed (5minutehistory). Valentines were so popular, the postmen were given a special allowance for refreshments to help them get through the exertions of the 2-3 days leading up to Valentine’s Day (5minute history). Let’s start off our journey through the decades with the romantic Victorians and early 1900’s.

Victorian & 1900’s

1920’s & 1930’s

1940’s

1950’s & 1960’s

1970’s & 1980’s

Raggedy Ann and Andy were a part of great childhood memories.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane and I wish you a very happy St. Valentine’s Day!

Sources:

http://www.stvalentinesday.org/history-of-st-valentines-day.html

fiveminutehistory.com

History of Valentines Day, Hallmark

Uncategorized

Magical or Miserable? 5 Recommendations for a Blended Family Vacation

img_5336For eight months my husband and I planned a Walt Disney World Vacation to celebrate 5 years of blending

Not blending margaritas, but our family. We even made matching t-shirts that said, “5 for 5” (5 of us 5 years married). So, with our magic bands and matching t-shirts, we were off to Florida for our much anticipated once in a lifetime, thank goodness the kids are old enough to go off on their own, family vacation.

On our first day in the Magic Kingdom, we didn’t waste any time letting the 2 teenagers go off on their own while the adults went on Thunder Mountain. I must say, one of the benefits of vacationing with your family in 2018 is the ability to get in touch with your teens at any time. Now, instead of just worrying about where your teens are, you now can also panic about what horrible thing has happened to them because they aren’t answering your text message. But, the teens were actually fine while they explored shops and used their snack credits on their magic bands, while my husband, my son Christian, and I went on what used to be called “E-ticket” rides.

During our 5 day trip, we visited all 4 parks and created memories that I hope we will all reminisce about for years to come. Some of our best times were spent bonding in the pouring rain under umbrellas and exchanging ponchos while we waiting in line for rides.

We even managed not to kill each other in the hotel room all 5 of us shared! But, we are sort of experienced at this since we all shared a room a few years back at the Grand Californian at Disneyland, and a room in San Diego during an extended family vacation. Each time we go somewhere though, poor Christian ( the 21-year-old) always gets the sofa bed. So, we’ve had some practice! I think we were either too excited or too exhausted to get on each other’s nerves in the hotel room, plus we weren’t in there very much, to begin with.

If you are going to venture out on a Blended Family vacation, I highly recommend splitting up into groups. That way your not all stuck side by side forcing family bonding every second. Besides, each age group has different expectations for the day and wants different experiences. For example, my daughter and I enjoy the Princesses so we broke off from the guys in Disney’s Hollywood Studios to catch a Beauty and the Beast stage show. It’s not necessary, nor advisable to spend every waking second together.

I also recommend some couple time. One of my very favorite memories from the trip was when my hunky hubby in his dapper Disney poncho and I spent an evening alone exploring the World’s Showcase in the national pavilions at Epcot. We trotted the globe visiting the countries of Japan, France, Italy, England, and Canada…all in one evening. We stopped in the French pavilion at the Palais du Cinéma to watch the Impressions de France movie that showcased the beauty and charm of France in a 200-degree widescreen theatre and followed it up with coffee and a Christmas Yule Log called a Buche de Noel. Btw, that was our second dessert of the night! But that is how you roll at WDW. By the end of the evening though, the rain had stopped and my husband and I had a romantic evening in what turned out to be my favorite park. We took beautiful photos and had fun meeting people from around the world.

The next day we all went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios which was decorated like we stepped into a 1950’s classic Christmas movie set. Throughout the day, I annoyed my family by commenting on everything saying “that’s so vintage”.

For lunch, we had reservations at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe and enjoyed crazy-good fried chicken while watching reruns of The Mickey Mouse Club on tiny TVs in a 50’s style kitchen.

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As a side note, my 21-year-old son tried a couple of time to see if it was too late to get out of going on this trip because I think he was worried the teenagers would annoy him.  Fortunately for him, the trip was already paid for and he had no choice but to be tortured like the rest of us! But as you can see from the photo above, he doesn’t look tortured and actually ended up having a great time and now I can remind him of our trip with cute annoying little sayings like “Stay Magical”. What was so nice about this trip is we had bonding moments with each person whether it was sharing laughs on a ride or taking goofy photos or enjoying a special treat.

Our final day was spent in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. To be honest, I was exhausted by then and glad the park was small. My feet were in terrible shape but at least the weather was warm and sunny which made walking around a lot more tolerable. Disney’s Animal Kingdom was my son Christian’s favorite park and where we ended the trip with a stomach-churning ride on Expedition Everest. Just when we get right up to the front of the line for the ride, my son asks to sit next to me in the VERY front row. I thought for a split second “do it, this is a bonding experience with your son and it’s the last ride of the trip…go out with a bang”. So I did and it was worth every second! My husband, Chris who’s a good sport got stuck sitting with the strange guy in the explorers’ hat behind us. Afterward, it felt like my intestines twisted into a pretzel, but the memory was well worth it.

Recommendations for a Magical Blended Family Vacation:

  1. It’s ok to split up-don’t feel like if you don’t spend every second together, you’ll miss out on precious blending opportunities.  Don’t build up too many expectations and be relaxed; the good times will flow if your calm and open-minded. Make time to create memories as a couple by going off on your own for a little adventure.
  2. Make time to create memories as a couple by going off on your own for a little adventure. If your kids are older, say 13 and up, let them explore on their own. Just set a check-in time and a meetup place for later in the day. The kids will enjoy the independence and you’ll get a much-needed sanity break. Then you’ll all be fresh minded and ready to spend some quality blending time together later on.
  3. Discuss ahead of time what you’re going to do that day-discussing favorite rides and attractions ahead of time will help you plan out your itinerary for the day. This way everyone gets a chance to voice what they want to do and plans can be made around it. In our case, we had Fast Passes already scheduled 60 days in advance, so we worked the other rides in around those. If someone really wanted to go on a particular ride, we worked that into our schedule and compromised.
  4. Find something that bonds you together. Food is always a good choice- blending may be smoother for some members of the family and more strenuous for others. If that’s the case, try and find something that you can bond over. Treats like popcorn, pretzels, or beignets are a good way to find commonality and create memories. My bonus son, Austin and I enjoy bonding over eating enormous amounts of beignets at Disneyland and now WDW.
  5. Be flexible and patient- traveling with a large group of people usually takes patience and a certain amount of flexibility. When traveling with a blended family, flexibility and patience are golden beignets from God. You just can’t have enough! Be open-minded and willing to try new things. Most of all bring your sense of humor…it will get you through some stressful times.

What I wished we did but didn’t have time for…. more down time to just chill by the pool.

Thanks to Lynette Katz of Wish Upon A Star for making this trip run as smooth as butter! Because of her planning and hard work, our trip was organized and hassle-free. She coordinated our whole trip ahead of time including dinner and lunch reservations and fast passes to the best rides. Also, her inside knowledge of the parks was invaluable. Thanks, Lynette….Stay Magical!

Art Deco architecture · Classic movies · Travel and Adventure · Uncategorized

Bullock’s Wilshire Department Store: Art Deco Tour and Fashion Show.

IMG_4172Do you enjoy shopping at a Department Store? How about shopping where Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich, Walt Disney and Alfred Hitchcock were patrons?  The Department Store of old Hollywood glamor like the Bullock’s Wilshire in Los Angeles with its Art Deco copper and etched glass doors welcomed upper crust LA society and Hollywood stars starting in 1929. This was the first department store built to cater to the burgeoning automobile culture at the time and welcome shoppers who wanted to shop somewhere closer than downtown L.A. The 241 ft tall tower on the exterior of the building made of copper, tarnished green, welcomed motorists from the suburbs with it’s light at the top that could be seen from miles around.

This is a special place, like no other modern day department store I have ever been to.
The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles hosted a Fashion Show and Tour at the Bullock’s Wilshire on June 10th 2018, as was promised at the Egyptian Theatre event where Margaret Leslie Davis discussed her book, Bullock’s Wilshire (Balcony Press, 1996) followed by the screening of the movie The Women, 1939 (see blog post). My mom, who went with me to the Egyptian Theatre event, joined me again for the Fashion Show and Tour.

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Mom and I on the J.G. Bullock’s private suite balcony with a view of downtown L.A.

I grew up watching classic films with my mom and no doubt it’s because of her influence, that I have a love for classic films and history and as a result, a passion for historic preservation and re-purposing. My hope is that we will get to experience many more of these special events together.

Join us for a glimpse of our Tour and Fashion Show at Bullock’s Wilshire:

As you enter the Foyer with it’s soft, natural lighting and elegant floor to ceiling St. Genevieve Marble and Travertine floors, you feel a sense of high glamour and sophisticated taste.

Bullock's Wilshire Perfume Hall
Perfume Hall awash with natural light muted by walls of St.Genevieve marble and Travertine Floors. Doors facing Wilshire Boulevard

BWPerfumeHall2

IMG_1634
On of the Elevators finished in nickel, brass & gunmetal.

Every room was designed to create an “experience”, a place where you wanted to spend the afternoon shopping and lunching with your friends. This is the place where Judy Garland was known to have sipped cocktails in the dressing room and where May West infamously waited in her car under the Port-Cochere as clerks brought merchandise out to her to purchase .

This, was a place where famous starlets shopped and where one of my favorite actresses, Angela Landsbury once worked as a clerk (Go Jessica Fletcher!) and upper crust L.A. Society came to feel pampered in the discrete boutiques. Upstairs, were showrooms with live models (as seen in The Women, 1939), and the Desert-color themed Tea Room with adjacent lounge where ladies could enjoy refreshments and watch fashion shows. Fans of classic films will appreciate that Irene Lentz (known as Irene) who became famous for dressing celebrities and designing wardrobes for major Hollywood studios, including MGM, was reported to have the first boutique devoted to a single designer inside a major US Department Store at Bullock’s Wilshire.

J.G. Bullock’s invited titans of business and politics up to his private suite on the 5th floor to enjoy cocktails and horsd’oeuvres while shopping. While on my tour with the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles, I was fortunate enough to be able to go into his dark wood walled suite and onto the private balcony. Our docent showed us the secret panels that opened up to hide alcohol during the prohibition era.

More photos from the Tour:

Now for the Fashion Show which took place in the Louis XVI Room where designer dresses were sold, formal wear and later furs:

Getting ready for the event:

I had found two amazing dresses at a couple of consignment shops in Ventura on Main St. But I still needed a hat and gloves to complete my outfit. I knew exactly where to go…the Attic Trunk! I had bought a very special black velvet hat there a few years back one day while out exploring Main St with my husband. I remembered Jackie and her spark and how she had to find the perfect box for my hat I was purchasing. The box just happened to be a vintage Bullock’s box. You see Jackie was know for her vintage hats. In fact, many gals went to her store to purposely buy hats for Dapper Days at Disneyland. Jackie not only had a fantastic vintage hat collection, she also knew all about the history of fashion and could expertly show a clueless gal like me how to wear the fancy hats.

So, to the  Attic Trunk I went. Sweet Jackie helped me chose a navy blue hat with a short veil and after much searching, also found me the PERFECT pair of gloves that were navy blue and had fancy stitching along the edges of the fingers.  I was set! We were having so much fun, I asked Jackie if she’d like to see my dresses I just bought and she said she would love to see them. I left the store and ran down the street to my car and got the fifties floral dress and my forties sailor inspired Stop Staring brand dress.  When I returned, I showed her the dresses and she was so thrilled and immediately pointed to the sailor inspired 40’s style dress. She said “that’s the one”.IMG_4184

After all of that, I told her that I was going to the Bullock’s Wilshire in Hollywood for a fashion show of vintage clothes from the 20’s, 30’s & 40’s. She was so excited about it she covered her mouth with her 2 hands and gasped in thrill. We talked about me coming back to her shop to show her photos of how I looked that day and the event itself. We discussed how I should definitely wear stockings (which I truly did!).  Unfortunately, I never made it back to show her any photos. Since then, I learned of her recent passing and I feel a sense of loss for myself that I will no longer have the luxury of walking into the Attic Trunk whenever I want and peruse through all of Jackie’s goodies and talk vintage clothing shop talk. I feel a sense of loss for our community to have lost a business owner who took pride in owning her own version of a Department store with glass cases filled with jewelry and lovely gloves. You will be missed Jackie and I hope you are meeting all of the classic Hollywood fashion icons whose clothes inspired generations of ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for making all of our days Dapper!

That’s a wrap!

To find out more information about The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles visit their website.

All Images: Christina Embry

References:

Docent-Art Deco Society of Los Angeles

Davis, Margaret Leslie. Bullocks Wilshire. Los Angeles: Balcony Press, 1996

 

Uncategorized

Encouragement Found In My Grandma’s Purse.

Ever since a dear friend said to me “how do you have time to blog?“, I stopped blogging. After a whole summer had gone by without writing a single blog post about the cool historical places I had visited, I realized how easily susceptible I was to discouragement when it comes to writing.  I let those very innocent words from my dear friend stop me from doing something I so enjoy because I thought, “she’s right, it’s probably a waste of time and I don’t have what it takes anyway”. I recently remembered a similar situation where I also felt discouraged about writing that took place when I  was about 10 or 11 years old.

One summer day, I gave my Grandma Rose a gift and in my innocence, I was so excited for her to read my expertly written short story about her. I thought for sure she would be overwhelmed with joy and shock at her granddaughter’s gift at prose. No, not even a little bit! As I sat on her rocking chair on a warn red cushion in the corner of her bedroom looking across the room as she read my story, I was bursting with anticipation of possible tears of joy coming from her. Then, her words came out and hit me like a ton of bricks…”It’s alright“. Wait, What? I just poured my creative soul into this and gifted it to you! I thought.

Years later, after my grandma passed away, my mother showed me the very same hand written story neatly folden in a ziplock baggy that she kept in her purse every day for the last 15 years. Wow! My mind was blown! I didn’t understand how my Grandma, who seemed so underwhelmed by the story when she initially read it, could have cherished it enough to hold onto it so tightly and preserve it all those years.

It’s sad, really. Because I took her initial reaction and words so to heart that I gave up on creative writing for a long time.  Words have a strong meaning, especially words from those we cherish and respect as children and as adults.  I looked up to my Grandma as a child,  I cherished and respected her as I do my beautiful friend. I believed when they said “It’s alright” or “How do you have time for that?”. Now, I cannot put all of the blame on them, for goodness sake! I’m the one that read waaaay too much into those words as a child and as an adult. I admit I can be a little sensitive.

Words do matter, but I have come to realize that just as their words meant so much, mine can too. So with that, I want to continue to share my words about historical places and people, historical preservation, vintage clothing as well my repurposing of the past through art and writing. I’d like to share stories and traditions to preserve the past and repurposing them for the future. I want to write about it all and share with all of you, making time and secretly hoping you will be like my Grandma Rose, cherishing blog posts in a special “ziploc baggy” in your own purse….or wallet.

Image Credit: Pinterest 1955 bolsos de cuero del día