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.

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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 TrueFacet.com

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.

Friendsmas Has To Come Early Because Friends Make Presents By Hand

Here’s an early thought about Christmas. Why early? I’m a last minuter myself, and here in the USA we need to take time for Thanksgiving. But today we’re celebrating Friendsmas, in which I let you know who in this community is making goods, or offering services, that you or someone you know might like.

And the Friends, small businesses all, really appreciate some time to schedule your photo shoot or make up your order.

Meg at Pigtown*Designs, household sundries

Last year Meg brought us mother-of-pearl flatware. That’s still on offer, but here’s the real news. Tea towels! Designed by Meg, printed in on a cotton/linen blend with non-toxic inks, made in the USA. Some feature Alice in Wonderland images.


And for anyone living in Maryland, a must. Crab Flag!


The full catalog is here, and everything can be purchased at Pigtown*Design’s Etsy store, here. Perfect to hang insouciantly about the kitchen.

Note: Tea towel orders must be placed by this Sunday, November 20th, for Christmas deliver.

Carol at French Flower Farm, skin care

Carol comments often here on Privilege, and you might have caught a conversation she and I had about a skin care serum. Well, although Carol’s main line of business is candle-making, she also offers a French peptide-based serum that increases collagen in the skin. We shall call it Carol’s Serum.


That’s my bottle.

I’ve been using it for maybe 6 weeks now on my eye and mouth, and I haven’t measured with my micrometer but I swear that lines are lessening! In combination with hyaluronic acid for the rest of my face and a light layer of marula oil over everything, I’ve found a new skin care routine.

You can contact Carol at her email address, info@frenchflowerfarm.com. She will make Carol’s Serum for you in pink, green, or colorless, and in one of her two scents, or unscented. I chose pink, in the floral. Both scents are perfume-like vs. essential oil-ish. She’ll send you an invoice, $51.20 to my neck of the woods, with shippping.

Cuyana, via Jane at @simplepretty (Twitter, Instagram)

Jane put together a guide to SF for a local store, Cuyana, which she kindly sent me. It was so lovely I took a look at the company’s goods. Fewer but better is their motto. For $295, a bag with Céline-esque lines.


Patsy at her jewelry site, Patsy Kane

Last year we loved her latitude/longitude pieces. This year I like her rigger bracelets, especially this one. The contrast of rope and steel.


Not just for sailors any more. Also Patsy is a crack up, which should never be undervalued.

Brigitte Carnochan, fine art photography

I will remind you of my stepmother’s photography. This year she gave each of us kids one of her pieces. I chose this one, of a California grass.


It is spectacularly beautiful, the palladium printing process bringing light to detail in a way the web cannot begin to replicate. I am going to buy this one next year to hang next to it.

platinum/palladium | 15"x24" Edition of 25 | 33"x21" Edition of 25

platinum/palladium | 15″x24″ Edition of 25 | 33″x21″ Edition of 25

She generously insists on giving us her work, not letting us purchase, but I think I can do it in stealth mode. You can find her work here, at Modernbook Gallery. She has something for peony lovers too.

Cara at Bluebird And The Bear, family photography

I’ve loved Cara’s work forever. You can see why.




Cara’s in North Uist now, far north, off the coast of Scotland. She travels to London, and points south. She works in color too, but I wanted to show her moody side. Reach her at her email, cara@birdandbear.co.uk, to schedule a family photo shoot. And go to North Uist if you can, it’s spectacular.

Laura at Baby Picture This, family photography

I wrote about Laura’s work last year, she’s done nothing but get better and win awards ever since.



Laura’s still in Brighton, she travels to London, and points north. Reach her at her email, laura@babypicturethis.co.uk, to schedule a family photo shoot.

Thank you all for supporting the Privilege community. I appreciate each and every one of you.

This post is not sponsored, no links are monetized, let’s support the gang!








Can I Wear Navy And Black Together? Yes, And Even For Holiday Parties


Today, Sue of Une Femme and I are giving you our take on black and navy, unappreciated color combination that it is, and dressing up for the holidays. While navy and black may not give you the punch of, say, red and green, or black and silver, for those of us who like our style subtle the combination can be fun to play with.

Just remember, because the two colors are so visually similar, you want to use texture and layout to amp up the look. Layout? What am I talking about? I’m pretending you’re a magazine and I mean a pronounced silhouette and white space, i.e. your skin.


Untitled #213


Principles Of Black And Navy For The Polished Tomboy

  • Dress in full understanding of your silhouette. Use it. I’m broad-shouldered and long-waisted. My favorite body part is not my upper thighs. So, I wear a short skinny ribbed sweater (vintage, TSE cashmere), with high(ish)-waisted straight-leg black pants.
  • Display strategic skin. I’ve covered my neck but exposed my ankles.
  • Texture, sheen, and pattern are your friends. My sweater is ribbed, the pants dupioni silk with lots of sheen, the shoes beaded to within an inch of their lives.
  • Do wear spectacular shoes. These Rene Caovillas hurt my feet like heck. For sitting only. Note, spectacular does not have to mean expensive, per se. You want the visual impact, however achieved.
  • Carry, hang or drape an accessory big enough to notice in a contrasting color. I am carrying a small gold/silver minaudiere that cost $35. The point being that gold contrasts to the cool tones of the rest of my outfit. Oh, and, although here I’m wearing some large disc earrings – in retrospect I’d go for danglers, as per usual for fancy anything.
  • Pay attention to your lipstick. Navy and black look very different on different skin tones, so your goal with lipstick is to highlight your face, not play nice with your clothes.  (I got a sample of Bare Minerals new matte liquid lipstick when I took my daughter to Sephora, I really like it. Scented like vanilla though, in case that’s an issue for you.)

Sue may have other rules, and whatever she says, for we surprise each other with these posts, will be correct. (I’ve seen her post now. She looks fantastic)

And we’re off.


My clothes are all from previous years. I’ve owned that TSE turtleneck for a decade. But this look is pretty easy to recreate today. I reminded myself, if not anyone else, of Audrey Hepburn. Even if she never stepped down into the oil spots of auto after auto along a city street.



A Black And Navy Holiday For 2016

  1. Black “Cigarette” Pants with Sheen Expensive from Tahari || Less Expensive In Silk-Cotton Dupioni from Talbots
  2. Skinny Navy Turtleneck Expensive (wool, silk, cashmere) from St. John || Way Less Expensive from UNIQLO (go UNIQLO!)
  3. Black Mid-Length Pencil Skirt (because some of you have reminded me that skirts do exist) From Diane von Furstenberg
  4. Beaded Navy Shoes Expensive from Rene Caovilla at Yoox  || Less Expensive from Nina at Lord and Taylor
  5. Embellished Navy Booties (for those skirts) Expensive (but with snakeskin!) from Jimmy Choo || Less Expensive from Brian Atwood (on pretty deep sale)
  6. Wildly Inexpensive Minaudières In Peach || In Gold/Silver
  7. Matte Liquid Lip Color from Bare Minerals via Nordstrom

A well-implemented navy and black outfit says, “I’ve got this.” We project as much confidence in quiet as in noise.

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The Ideal Thanksgiving Kitchen Tools For The Meal I Don’t Have To Cook This Year


This Thanksgiving I’m not cooking. And I’m thankful. In past years I’ve gone to town with various menus. This year both kids will be elsewhere, and my husband and I, as we did in 2014, are going out to eat. Let us hope the food is better this time.

As we enjoy the lacuna, for one must grace quiet moments with their own Big Words, I’ve been wondering, what might be the ideal set of Thanksgiving kitchen tools? If one were to start from scratch? Let’s define ideal as a) suited to function b) no more than needed but as good-looking as possible, and, c) as often as possible on sale right now from familiar retailers.

Here’st what I came up with.

  • Roasting pans that work on the stove top This inexpensive old school version just might do the trick. I’d have to see if the turkey sits high enough to allow for actual roasting. (I like to make pan gravy with a roux and giblet broth, and I don’t fuss too much about separating out the fat etc. That’s how Mom always did it. Worcestershire sauce the secret ingredient.) Or this pan, on deep sale at Macy’s, is a step up.
  • Baking pans with a lip . Brussels sprouts are prone to rolling onto the oven floor. (Oh, by the way, have you discovered parchment paper? To line the pan? So much better than aluminum foil.)
  • Ceramic pie pans. These are so pretty, in multiple colors with a fluted edge, I bought a similar pair once in a rush and appreciate every instance when they escape the Baking Cupboard. O sad bakeware in a non-baking kitchen!
  • While our Thanksgiving is highly oven-intensive, I do need two largish stove-top pots. One for boiling potatoes and one for boiling pearl onions before they are baked in cream sauce. These aren’t All-Clad tasks. You want a pot big enough, sturdy, but not so heavy you have to call in reinforcements to lift it. I have never found anything better than good old Revere Ware. The company still exists, but they no longer make their copper-bottomed beauties. eBay remembers. I really want this one, it’s bigger than the one I have. But I use mine, oh, every other day?
  • Which reminds me, I need a very small All-Clad saucepan (on sale at Sur la Table) for roux (similar but fancier and also on sale) (which reminds me I use a small Le Creuset baking dish for baking onions bathed in said roux. Nobody ever eats very many creamed onions. The old cast iron enamelware is no longer available in an au gratin. Once again, eBay to the rescue. I’ve owned mine, that mottle thing at top, for 40 years.)
  • Of course everything needs cutting. Cooking would be so easy if food just cut itself. I think I could make do with just a chef’s knife, paring knife, a carving knife and fork, and a knife sharpener. Of course, if I had TWO chef’s knives, clan teamwork would be so much more efficient. I call dibs on this one. But Sur La Table has a lot of good knives on sale.
  • I have to have a potato masher. Potatoes resist their fate. Sur La Table designed their own, with a nylon head. Target offers the OXO Smooth Grips.
  • I cherish my Earlywood sauté tool. For poking at hot things. I got one in 2014. I was subsequently given one of their ladles by a friend, which I also love. Perfect paired with Le Creuset – that enamel doesn’t like metal spoons. Were I buying now, I’d get the Trifecta. And probably a whole bundle of spoons.
  • I don’t need a rolling pin, since I buy frozen pie crusts, but garlic mashed potatoes in large volume demand a garlic smasher.
  • Finally, I’ve loved this set of glass bowls with lids, to be used both for mixing and for storage once your family pushes their chairs back from the table and confesses – they cannot, simply cannot, eat another bite. And when, the next morning, to put in the microwave when everyone wakes up hungry.

What do you think? Yay? Nay? How would your list differ?


Links may generate commissions. I’ve tried to pick items that can be delivered before Thanksgiving. For free shipping at Earlywood Designs use this code: This1onUs. Sur la Table has free shipping, a 65% cookware sale, and guaranteed delivery for Thanksgiving for 2 more days. Target has free shipping and returns, and in-store pickup for a lot of stuff.


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