Real Life Presents For Women From Bouncing Babies All The Way To Elders

Presents. We High WASPs we call them presents, even though the word “Present” doesn’t sound as good with “Guide,” as the word “Gift” does.  Let’s think about the women we might be giving to of all ages. For me, that means from 84 years to 5 months.




For my mother: Alzheimer’s appreciates repetition. The concept of a uniform takes on new meaning, supporting self-recognition. Without much thought, we packed Mom’s striped shirts for the move. Now we stick with that design to help her orient. Ease of dressing is also critical, someone is always helping. I’ve found the petite washable crepe pants from Eileen Fisher work well here (Mom’s short), as do button-front tunics. Shirt: Brooks Brothers, on sale. Pants: by Eileen Fisher at Nordstrom,

For my daughter: Medical students in Southern California need cute backpacks to carry their papers and even cuter sunglasses to protect and enhance their baby blues. Backpack: Vera Bradley. Sunglasses: Ray-Ban.

For my stepmother: At a guess, she wants nothing. And yet I would love to get her a piece of jewelry, the kind that’s really art in disguise. Previously-owned Hermès via The RealReal. I think I quite like the tarnish. Or, as she may have recently told me, a vase for a photography prop. Did you know Calvin Klein offers vases from a ceramicist? Me neither. But this one is less expensive and still pure of line.

A topper for my working sisters: In order to find affordable pieces nice enough for work, I’d scour the department store sale sites like Off5th, Nordstrom Rack, and Neiman Marcus’s Last Call, looking for a lucky size. Lots of Friends and Family deal this week. Or maybe I’d just splurge. Cardigan: Eileen Fisher at Nordstrom. Cashmere, by the way. A less expensive version that comes in multiple colors, in Tencel, here. The jacket is by Akris Punto, seriously discounted here. We always want our jackets to give like a cardigan, our cardigans to impress like a jacket.

Jewelry for my teenaged nieces: Something simple, a little edgy, but not remotely trashy.  Silver branch necklace via Blue Nile. Or maybe one of these.

Books for the school-aged children of my friends abroad: Reading levels vary widely at this age. I discovered Mo Willem in my volunteer teaching. How does he write so much humor and empathy into so few words? Today I Will Fly! (An Elephant and Piggie book). And surely any six-year old girl, or any six-year old anyone, ought to know Pippi Longstocking. I remember finding it very scary, that she lived alone, and wondering how she bore it. And yet she did, with good cheer.

Baby present for a little girl: Handsome in Pink makes gender-agnostic baby and toddler clothes. If a middle-aged woman can wear a biker jacket, surely a baby girl, or a baby boy, for that matter. should have this biker onesie.

Presents for a real life lived, for me: A throw blanket for sofa writing (or maybe this one, less expensive), Crocs for muddy gardening on sale here.

Links may generate commissions

One Minute In The Christmas Season Of 2016, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:13am


Just browsing warm white pre-lit outdoor cone Christmas trees. Four feet tall or thereabouts preferred.


Take Back Our Ray-Bans And Show Them What We’ve Got

This post is sponsored by Ray-Ban. All opinions are assuredly my own.


Today I have one message for my fellow baby boomers; remind the young ones we’ve still got it. We still think and feel.

We still style it out.

But we’ve also been around too long to try too hard. You know what’s easy? Let’s take back our sunglasses. Yes, sunglasses. As I have said before, there’s no quicker way to add a little edge than a pair of Ray-Bans. Sturdy Gals rejoice. Why should the young define what’s cool?

I’ve worn iconic Ray-Bans off and on my whole adult life. Here, blurry, blissful, in the Swedish Archipelago. Summer of 2010. A bit like these. Or these, maybe. Or these? It’s possible I’ve worn men’s glasses?


Six years later, hair no longer blond, vision no longer quite so keen, lenses prescribed. But mirrored aviators are up for adventure. Here, in a field alongside Highway 101, preparing for a highway patrol office to pull over and ask my sister and me, “What (implied: in the he**!) are you doing?”


One never has to answer fully.

And recently, at New York Fashion Week. With my adult son behind the camera. Motherhood, cool.


Also on a boat on Lake Austin in Tex. Long-term friendship, diamonds and 60th birthdays. Pretty cool.


But on beyond icons, even a Polished Tomboy occasionally wants a touch of Movie Glam. The aviators didn’t quite work with the Prada dress and pink cardigan that I wore to my niece’s Bat Mitzvah. Impunity takes us only so far.


Bat and Bar Mitzvahs are the best.

Back to style. Imagine I’d had a Jackie Oh-ish pair. Hmm, you might think, we know  our 60s references. How about frosted turquoise? Uhuh.


Ray-Bans, #4191. When it doubt, take it to the Pacific.


By the way, have you ever wondered what style bloggers do when a wave threatens to carry off our tripod and camera? Run like he**. Old enough to laugh at ourselves.


Tickled pink by our own foibles. I’m thinking the frosted Turquoise will go well with my pink and red bikini. The #4191s come in other colors too, including Bordeaux.

Practical with benefits. Coming into focus. Remember that Still Got It thing? We define “It” ourselves.


Iterative footsteps.

By the way, it might seem daunting to buy sunglasses online. But provides measurements. Measure a pair you own that fit, across a lens, across bridge of the nose, and at the length of the temple. Now buy that size again. My aviators are 58-14.

Sunglasses are like shoes, we don’t sacrifice for beauty.

Did we baby boomers make Ray-Bans cool?  No. It was our parents and the pilots of WWII. I think those flyers might wag their wings at us, overhead. Aging loves herself a little courage, and all kinds of encouragement from friends.

And if I pass the flag to my Ray-Ban wearing daughter, I’m thinking she might look great in these. Octagonal lenses, altogether new.

Links may generate commissions. Tunic here, white jeans here, bracelets here and here.


Wrapping Up The Presents And Your House

Seems like a year to double down on Christmas wrapping. And I don’t just mean presents. I wish Christo would come wrap my whole house in crinkle foil and twinkle lights. Or red felt if the crew were so inspired.

No, I haven’t bought even one present. I’ll do my shopping in a rush next week or the week after that. But decorating beckons, “Red me, green me, let me sparkle to my hearts content!”

OK then. Accoutrements required?


I need new outdoor lights. I like to mix white icicles and individual red lights for a candy cane effect. It’s ever so tasteful. I’ve resisted LEDs so far but I give up. These will do.

But wait, why focus on tasteful? Tasteful is so last century. I feel the urge for gilt and gaud. How about a light-up reindeer? I suppose someone might steal it but life is short and reindeer imaginary anyway.

As for the tree, maybe it’s time for a few new pinecones.


Surface Accoutrements

In years past I’ve hung an evergreen garland over the door to the study, and layered individual boughs underneath our crêche, but I’m tired of sweeping up needles. Again, tasteful?


Or like the reindeer, gold and glitzy?

Also this year we need both a new Baby Jesus and a menorah because we’re celebrating Chrismakuh. We’ve got a menorah from when the kids were in school so perhaps I’ll rely on our dear guests for anything more elegant. The Baby Jesus would replace the one we lost from our crêche. Although I’m an atheist, it’s the myth-loving variety, and I cannot resist a scene in which all the adults and even a bunch of animals gaze adoringly at a baby.

One asks again for the baby, tasteful or gaudy, faceted or rustic? This question is perhaps broader than I knew.


Last Christmas I thought, “Hmm.” Enough with monochrome. Let’s bust out.” So I’ve ordered eight Cornishware breakfast plates to put on top of my white and gold Lenox. Kapow.

plate_breakfast_red_1050px_3You might prefer an affordable, and more subtle illustrated version, here. Or for something quite over the top in both cost and style, count on Versace.

And, Yes, Eventually All That Goes Under The Tree

I will not be rushing to CVS for flimsy ugly paper this year. Some presents will be wrapped beautifully. Or in this.


Maybe with illustrated ribbon.

Others, reusably. I have ordered a set of these. Stretchy fabric in several sizes, to pull over boxes.


And I’m dying to see if they work.

So much fuss may seem extravagant. Unabashed, I want a winter holiday that warms the cockles of my heart. Preparing for family.

Links may generate commissions



Believe The Rain Or The Drought Or Both, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:48am

It’s raining.

This has been a terribly difficult year, personally with my mom, in public given the election. And yet I’m optimistic. Not in the way of platitudes, the gloss in which civilized people excel. But optimistic when you  admit everything’s been awful. Awful with teeth. You face it and fight it and believe anyway.

I believe that people are good. I believe that life is good. I believe this because of the irregular splatting of raindrops and because joy.

Joy. How could joy be so powerful if we were not good? If life were not good?

It’s raining. We had years of drought, and today it’s raining. I believe in the science of climate change. This anecdotal rain is nothing compared to data and yet it gives me hope. People are like that. Our feelings trounce logic. Let’s use our irrationality for good instead of evil.

I don’t even think my optimism is per se “right.” But it’s what I’ve got, so what I’ve got I’ll bring.

Love you all. Have a good weekend.

Black Friday And Cyber Monday Sales, A Giveaway Winner, And, No, I Won’t Be Going Into Stores If I Can Help It

I hope all the readers in the USA in had a great Thanksgiving, and that everyone else had a great, well, Thursday. Below is my list of Thanksgiving weekend sales and deals.These are all retailers or services I’ve shopped at, been in contact with, or coveted from, over the years. I will update this post with any new information as Cyber Monday arrives.


Let’s kick off with the news that Patagonia is donating 100% of their Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental groups. Thank you Patagonia, it’s good to have a planet.


On to our core shared interest. What to wear? What to give to people we love that they can wear?


UPDATED: True Facet, a pre-owned jewelry site, focuses on assuring authenticity for iconic pieces. So if you’re thinking someone would love a classic Cartier love bracelet, here’s a way to make that happen. Or a Van Cleef & Arpels butterfly necklace, for that matter. Take $100 off $500 with code CYBER100 at

UPDATED: And my friends at Blue Nile, not to be outdone, are offering 50% off some diamond and gemstone jewelry for Cyber Monday.

Home & Hospitality

The opulent home goods site, Horchow, is having a holiday decor sale. Up to 40% off. I swear I’m tempted by this horrid Santa fairy. He’s on sale? But probably this would be more appropriate, I know.

Novica, the global artisan site, is also having a Thanksgiving Weekend sale. Save $10 on orders over $50, $15 on orders over $100 and $25 on orders over $150. Use code SAVE10, SAVE15, and SAVE25 to save today. Valid 11-22-15 through 11-26-15 11:59 PM PT.

UPDATED: And Amazon’s got lot of Cyber Monday deals – new ones all day long.

UPDATED: Finally, if you have the same aversion to post offices as I do, I recommend Paperless Post. We used them for our wedding invitations, and my 60th birthday. Lovely designs abound at 35% off today.

Oh, wait, the winner of The Samuel Scheuer Linens Giveaway is MJ! MJ, please email me at skyepeale at yahoo dot com with your mailing address and we will get them sent out to you as soon as we can. I am assuming that although you decamped to Tasmania, which, understood, you have a mailing address in the US. I am really pleased to think of these somewhat goofy WASPy linens proliferating around the country.

I’ve already hung one that says Happy Holidays in my guest bathroom. Quite cheering.

Some links may generate commissions













Happy Thanksgiving!


Bootvana For A Rainy City

Do you know what drought does to a shoe collection? Encourages a preponderance of suede. And shoes perforated all which ways.

So we’d been having a little rain in Northern California and I needed boots to wear in the city. Boots without perforations. Boots that repel water. Boots that do not bring to mind mucking about on the moors.

Welcome to Bootvana. And an iPhone photo. I felt so cool I was willing to let my belly show.


Those are the the Aquatalia “Yulia” Waterproof Chelsea boots for women. Classic, modern, comfortable, a little sexy. And yes I know water can seep through the gusset despite Aquatalia’s weatherproofing process, but I’m not planning on playing in the puddles.


Not inexpensive. But I am hoping to wear them through many a rainy winter in San Francisco. Poised on the curb, no fear of the gutter, wet wind on my face. Exactly how a Sturdy Gal likes it.

(By the way, it’s probable that yesterday I replaced my painful Caovillas with these Grande Dame jeweled slingbacks because they are 60% off at Saks. I went for navy, needless to say, but they come in taupe and black too. )


Links may generate commissions




And For My Friends Here, Today For Those Who Comment, Guest Towels In A Giveaway From Samuel Scheuer Linens


Fun story with an even better ending. I ordered a whole slew of these Henry Handwork embroidered guest towels, and posted about them here. I admit I want to ornament the holidays this year, to gather my loved ones close in a fairy tale house of High WASP fripperies.

The store, Samuel Scheuer Linens in San Francisco, must have noticed all you nice people visiting their site, because their rep got in touch with me and offered to send me either another pair of towels or a set of cocktail napkins, as a thank you present. Wasn’t that unexpected and nice?


But since I had already ordered abundantly for myself, it felt only natural to host a giveaway. After all, if we can have Friendsmas for artisans, we should have a Friendsmas simply from me to you.


A couple of notes. For the first time ever I’m going to limit this giveaway to those who have previously commented, as a special thank you to for all your time over these past (almost) 8 years. Unfortunately, the entrants also need to be limited to people in the USA. But no need to tell a story this time. A simple, “Yes, please,”  the name of the design you’d like from the assortment here, and whether you’d like a pair of towels or a set of four cocktail napkins, or one towel and two napkins, will suffice. In retrospect, not 100% simple;).

I will announce the winner this Friday, November 25th, along with a couple of Thanksgiving weekend online sales of note.

By the way, Scheuer Linens have a Hanukah towel too. This year Christmas Eve falls on the first first night of Hanukah, so my extended family and I will be celebrating Chrismukah. Or, as we have often and happily said to each other on the doorstep, feet stomping to dry and breath fogging in a California kind of chill,  “KWISSMISS TIME!”

Let’s keep the holidays happy, cute, courteous, and true to our hearts. Often easier said than done. Cheers and thank you very much for everything.


No monetized links included, no compensation involved





Volunteering To Teach, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:51am

I went back to school on Wednesday.

Not as student, but volunteering again as I did last year. The teacher was finally ready to open her class to helpers.

This is first grade, in a well-to-do suburb on the San Francisco Bay Area Peninsula. Kids from the east side of town comprise most of its pupils. And on this particular east side, almost all the families have come from Latin America. Some just last week.

Parents speak Spanish. Children speak Spanish too, but only the most recently arrived speak no English. Kids learn very quickly.

I work with them on reading, in groups of four. There are 24 kids in the class. Glad it’s not 40. “Reading” varies as much as the children’s skill levels, of course. Some learn the names of the letters in English, others write a three-sentence short story.

A few anecdotes.

I like to give the kids felt pens and paper and have them draw something they care about. Then I write down a few easy related words they can copy onto their drawings. One little boy told me, with a sideways look and an ephemeral smile, “I am going to draw a shooting house.” “OK,” I said. One-on-one attention is its own gift. He drew a house with what looked like a beam of light shining out a window. “Is the shooting in the house or outside,” I asked? “In the house,” he said. He kept drawing. I talked to one of the other children for a couple of minutes. “Oh,” the drawing boy said, “They are shooting bananas.” Then he drew a stream of bananas in the beam of light. I showed him how to write Shooting House Bananas.

A little girl spoke in a very, very low voice. Luckily she was right next to me so I could hear her.

Another little girl didn’t know what to draw. She couldn’t say what she cared about. “How about your family?” I said. She looked at me. Big eyes, spiky eyelashes. “Your mother, your father…” she interrupted, “I don’t have a father.” I continued, “Your grandmother?” She said, “My father left my mother.” “That happens,” I said, “It’s hard when that happens.  “I have two grandmas,” she said, and drew a picture of one of them, in a red dress. “Red is my grandma’s favorite color,” she said, just as her time at my little table finished.

Another little boy looked at me when I spoke, seeming not to comprehend, moving his mouth with my words. “He doesn’t speak English,” the little boy next to him said. “OK,” I said, “Tell him if he doesn’t understand, you will explain in Spanish.” I told the first little boy to draw a picture of something he cared about. His friend started to translate, but my non-English speaker waved him off with evident charisma. “He says he understands,” said his friend. We all laughed.

All these anecdotes are as true as I can make them. I am doing almost nothing. I do not think highly of myself for this, although I’m glad I managed to keep my promise. But the kids, and their teacher, are amazing. She’s from Mexico, came here at 20, has been teaching in the public schools ever since.

I am happy to live in California. I hope you love your home state too. Have a great weekend.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...