Friday, December 30, 2011

Gatherings and Gifts

Christmas was full of disbelief and wonder this year. Although I'm surrounded by the busyness of living in L.A., there's a loneliness that runs rampid here. In this industry-driven town mostly made up of people who place their own aspirations over friendships, I can often be left feeling disregarded and unloved.

After a week of too much self-pity, I opened my mailbox to a beautiful card from my dear friend Berkeley. It was stuffed with a typewriter medalion necklace (as a celebration for a new writing internship I landed with Zooey Magazine), a shoe-themed notecard set, and a gift card to my favorite non-vintage but still vintage inspired store Anthropologie. I can't even express how her thoughtfulness warmed my heart and prompted me to stop this needless concentration on what I lacked. I have amazing friendships in my life and although I don't get to have them near me on a daily basis, I do have them sprinkled around the country. I left L.A. for the bay area with that crucial It's A Wonderful Life reminder that we all need to receive sometimes: I matter.

Despite wishing that my brother was available to partake in the Christmas madness (he's at boot camp),  I still had that earnest feeling where I wake up in the morning wanting to kick my legs with glee and jump out of bed so I wouldn't miss a moment of the day. Still a bit of a kid I suppose. When I was a child, however, this excitement was ignited by wanting to run out and see what Mama Santa (see post from 12/23/11) left me under the tree. A Barbie doll? A new Nancy Drew mystery? A board game or puzzle? This year it wasn't about gifts though. My Mom and I had already decided that gifts wouldn't be exchanged because all I had wanted was help paying for a much needed MRI. My Mom had so graciously paid for the entire test, so now it was purely the anticipation of spending time with family and friends that I don't get to see often enough...the people in my life that make me feel like a priority.

Coming downstairs to a delicious breakfast of baked french toast and a citrus fruit salad and catch-up conversation with Steve and Wanda (my second set of parents whom I lived with for three years), Christmas already began with joy. As I was leaving to spend the rest of the day with my parents and family friends Dan and Rebecca, Wanda shocked me by handing me Christmas presents I didn't expect. Wanda always really takes the time to pick out items that she knows the recipent will love, and this time was no exception. I unwrapped a 1950's vintage cream cardigan she found at a rummage sale, a white dachshund ring dish and a pair of gorgeous jeweled barretts from Anthropologie. I didn't even know what to say as I left.

When I finally made it over to the home of Dan and Rebecca, where my parents were staying, my heart had been so touched by the thoughtfulness of Steve and Wanda, my family friend Marcie who gave me a book about a vintage shop owner called A Vintage Affair the night before at her Christmas Eve gathering, and Berkeley earlier that week, that I seriously thought there wasn't going to be room to store the love shown me inside my heart when Rebecca handed me the gifts she had bought for me. Vintage style Coca-Cola glasses, a knitted dachshund ornament, a kitchen dish towel and wine stopper from their recent travels to Italy, the book Sarah's Key (which I already borrowed from my Mom and read but absolutely adored), dark chocolate from their trip to Switzerland (yes, it's already been downed), and a coffee table book entitled Under the Tree: The Toys and Treats that Made Christmas Special 1930-1970. I couldn't believe they had done this much for me when they have two of their own children to buy for, daughters-in-laws, eight grandchildren, and so on and so on.

My parents weren't suppossed to buy me anything. We had made an agreement. She told me on the phone that she got me a few stocking stuffers...I was expecting maybe some soaps or nail polishes, but she definitely held onto her title of Mama Santa. I was the last person in the living room still tearing off wrapping paper. Everyone else had gone into the kitchen for tasty treats or gone to play with their new toys as I sat by myself in awe. I had people in my life that cared so much about me that they took the time to not only pick something out for me, but carefully considered what I would most appreciate.

Since Christmas wasn't going to be at home this year, I didn't really comprehend what it was going to be like and didn't go out and buy gifts like I normally would. I was left feeling completely humbled by this display of love and wanted so badly to give back but had nothing but cards for them. I had failed in demonstrating how much they mattered to me. All I could do was thank each of them, eat with them, commune with them, laugh with them, play games with them, accept the love they had to share...and hope that I could someday have the capacity to show them how much they each mean to me.


Jaime, me, Gus, my Mom.

Susan Groves, my Mom, me, Gus.

Jaime in a homemade knitted Santa cap.

My Mom.
My Mom with Rebecca.


A Chipmunk fan I am.

Gus relaxing.

Maecie and I.

Gus and I enjoying Christmas Eve.

Christmas morning.

Ariana was in just as much awe as I..

A Christmas performance of the nativity story by Rebecca's grandkids. 

Wanda cookinag away.

Steve about to be merry.

Rebecca, my Mom, Wanda.

Jaime and my Mom still affectionate after 19 years.

Jaime and Rebecca

Cream and green buttoned cardigan from Anthropologie; 1960's vintage red, black and yellow wool skirt from Jet Rags; black tights and red vintage heels (not pictured.)

Red and black plaid flannel top from Anthropologie; silver dangly earrings from Varga; black and silver bow hair clip from Urban Outfitters; tan plaid skirt from Urban Outfitters; black tights and white 1960's heels.

                            THE VINTAGE GIFTS I RECEIVED:

This book reminices over all that is both old and Christmas.

1950's white cardigan.

Vintage kitchen decals.

1950's brown and gold evening purse.

Amber plastic jewelry case.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Vintage Tip Tuesday XXIV

With Christmas over and New Year's fast approaching, the time has come to make resolutions. Yes, most do not keep their resolutions, but that doesn't mean it isn't possible. How about choosing to do your part in being good to our one and only earth by only shopping for items that have been used? You will automatically stand out and look unique if you go the vintage route...and you'll save money--what's better than that?!  After all, this is a resolution that is a lot more fun than going to the gym and eating healthier. It's like a fun scavenger hunt. Make this a year of interesting style by purchasing all items for yourself as well as gifts for others at vintage stores, flea markets, thrift stores, estate sales and garage sales.  Both you and those family and friends you buy for will be thrilled with the time and thought you put into your purchase because it will make you and them the "one-of-a-kind" individual you/they deserve to be!

garage sale

estate sale

vintage shop

Los Angeles-
3100 West Magnolia Boulevard, Burbank, CA 91505-2905
(818) 557-8447
Hubba Hubba
3220 West Magnolia Boulevard, Burbank, CA 91505-2905
(818) 845-0636

Hot Mess Vintage
3318 West Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026
(805) 208-8541

San Francisco-
 La Rosa Vintage
 1711 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
 (415) 668-3744

Afterlife Boutique                         
988 Valencia St. San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 796-2398 

 Old Vogue                        
 1412 Grant Ave. San Francisco, CA 94133
 (415) 392-1522

New York-

Stella Dallas            
218 Thompson St. New York, NY 10012
(212) 674-0447

Angela's Vintage Boutique                 

330 E 11th St. New York, NY 10003
(212) 475-1571

The Hip Zipper                 
1008 Forrest Ave Nashville, TN 37206
(615) 228-1942

Goodbuy Girls                 

1108 Woodland St. Nashville, TN 37206
(615) 281-9447


1601 First Ave. Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 441-7711

Le Frock              

317 E Pine St Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 623-5339

Red Light Vintage              

312 Broadway E. Seattle, WA 98102
(206) 329-2200

Inspirational Icon Monday: Lucille Ball

I was so taken by Lucille Ball as a child. During school breaks, every morning at 10 am I would watch the back-to-back episodes of I Love Lucy that showed on Fox. I loved curling up in the pink and blue quilt my Mom made me with some hot cocoa, and dreaming about the day when I turned 23 (the age that I thought you were really an adult) and could wear all the beautiful full skirted dresses and pencil skirts with secretary blouses that this pretty redhead cloaked herself in while scheming with Ethel. Lucy was always complaining to Ricky that she didn't have any nice dresses, but I would have given anything to have her wardrobe be in my dress-up box.

I no longer cover my bedroom walls with calenders, 8x10 glossy photos or have little I Love Lucy trinkets sitting here and there, but...I might still wear purple I Love Lucy pajamas. I can't help loving her. She is a woman deserving of admiration.  It took her years to make it in show biz. Many disappointments of hopeful projects failing. Even I Love Lucy wouldn't have aired if she wouldn't have taken it on tour to the Vaudeville stage and proven to CBS that she could gather an audience for a sitcom about a kooky red head and her Cuban nightclub singing husband. I Love Lucy topped the ratings during its 1950-57 run and was the first show to ever have a pregnancy storyline. She believed in this story and it's relatability, and pushed for it to happen until the network finally was worn down.

Although she played a silly housewife on the small screen, she was anything but silly off. She took her career, her marriage, and her role as a mother seriously. Sometimes failing, but always striving for success. Married to Desi Arnaz in 1940, she developed I Love Lucy to save this marriage that was strained by his alcoholism, womanizing, and careers that kept them physically apart. Ball created a way to keep them in the same place so they could work on their marriage. She finally had a child at age 40 (unheard of in the 1950's) and another one a year and a half later. Motherhood and being a committed wife didn't slow down her career, however. She became the first woman to ever head a studio in 1962 with Desilu Productions.

Although her production company was a success and she went on to produce many other shows aside from I Love Lucy, and even star in several others, her marriage to Desi wasn't able to stand his continued infidelity and excessive drinking. They divorced in 1960 after 20 years of marriage, and they never had a bad word to say about the other whom they both always labeled, "the love of my life." Immediately after her divorce, Ball entered into another marriage with commedian Gary Morton that lasted the remaining 27 years of her life. She was a passionate woman. Devoted to everything she deemed important--family, friends, her career...and laughter. I don't know if there could have been a better television hero to have as a child: a woman who believed through all her set backs that anything was possible and did all she could to make those dreams come to fruition.