Thoughts on the loss of Queen Elizabeth II, a birthday luncheon, a luxury home listing and more on today’s Weekend Meanderings.
Happy weekend, friends!
It was Kim’s birthday this week!
More on that later.
It’s unbelievably hot here.
We’re having a dose of what it must be like to live in Palm Springs, Las Vegas or Arizona.
Any thought of refreshing my front porch planters went out the window.
Fall doormats and wreaths are on hold too.
I may wait until October to make any seasonal changes outside.
It was an eventful week so let’s get right to it.
QUEEN ELIZABETH II
Like many of you, I had a mother who was fascinated by the British Royal Family. And she passed that fascination and love onto me. As a girl my mom was enchanted by the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. She kept scrap books filled with newspaper clippings of their coming and goings. The first royal event I remember is Princess Anne’s wedding to Captain Mark Phillips in 1973. I was eleven. My mom got me up at all hours to watch it live. Truth be told I was only mildly interested. And the Queen to me seemed a distant and humorless figure … she hadn’t yet captured my imagination.
As I entered my teen years my mom joked that she’d send me to boarding school in England in hopes I’d meet and marry Prince Andrew. Wow, I really dodged a bullet there. Then along came Lady Diana and suddenly I was wearing ruffle necked blouses, billowy skirts, and flats. At last, a royal family member with whom I could identify. I was hooked and my mom was thrilled.
As the years went on, and I matured, I came to appreciate the Queen and the significance of her role. The more I read, watched, and learned about her life the more I came to respect and admire her. Her sense of duty and commitment. The pledge she made, at the young age of 21, is so moving …
“I declare before you that all my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
Isn’t it remarkable that she did exactly that? And thankfully she lived a long life. We’re so fortunate for her example of commitment and grace, of dignity and restraint. Of steadfastness. Qualities we don’t see much of in our leaders today. I can’t help feeling that her death marks the end of an era … and era of relative stability, of decency, respect, and courtesy as common values with which to aspire.
It’s late. And I’m late with this post having found it hard to tear myself away from the television. I wish I could be more eloquent in expressing my feelings of deep respect and admiration for the Queen, what she meant to me and what she meant to so many millions of people around the world. And most of all to her family who’ve lost a mother, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother. In the short time since her passing I’ve read a few really good pieces by Victoria Arbiter on Honey.Nine.com and Tina Brown in the New York Times. And I was particularly moved by this thread on Twitter (of all places) from the @UKRoyalTea account that I enjoy following.
“One of the reasons so many of us admire the Queen is exactly what she has been criticized for. As a monarch for 70 years, she saw a huge amount of change. Societal, political, cultural, personal. As the head of a constitutional monarchy, her job was to support the government. This often meant supporting policies that she probably didn’t personally agree with. This often meant facing criticism for policies she wasn’t involved in shaping but had to be the figurehead for. This is true in her life and her death, and a duty she bore with grace. She was able to balance change with stability, tradition, and continuity. She was not perfect, and made mistakes along the way, but that is because she was a human, who lived a 96-year life in the public eye and learned and evolved along the way under intense scrutiny. I see King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla in the same way. People who have made mistakes, and will probably continue to, but have given their lives to public service. At an age where most would retire, they are stepping into shoes that are seemingly impossible to fill. No matter your personal feelings about any of the royals, they have given their lives and much of their privacy to a job that they were born into. I can’t say that I would handle it with half of the dignity they have, or that I would choose it no matter the perks. A full life has high and low points, successes, and mistakes. I hope the reporting over the next few weeks reflects that, and that we are all able to recognize and respect that 70 years of public service is something only a very rare person could handle the way The Queen did.”
My personal two cents is that the best way to express admiration and respect for the Queen is to support those who follow her in leading the institution she spent her entire adult life defending so brilliantly. May she Rest In Peace.
BIRTHDAY LUNCH FOR KIM
The morning of the Queen’s passing I was expecting five gal pals for lunch. Two of the crew are royalists like me and I knew they’d be equally devastated. But taking direction from the Queen’s example, stiff upper lip and all, the show must go on … and that it did. You may recognize some of my luncheon pals. And you may be tired of hearing me talk about them. I asked Kim, are we giving the impression we do nothing but swan around like real housewives? I can assure you that’s NOT the case. See more of our luncheon party here.
Tuesday was Kim’s birthday and the Contessa spearheaded her birthday lunch.It was hotter than blazes but we persevered. We started with cool drinks and, you guessed it, mini-charcuterie (method to my madness here), on the patio. And quickly moved indoors for a lunch. I made my new favorite chicken, apple, walnut salad (recipe here) , Kim (yes, the birthday girl) brought caprese salad with tomatoes from her dad’s garden, Heidi (who created the beautiful painting behind me) brought deliciously deviled eggs and the Contessa made chocolate cake, and berries bathed in a yummy yogurt sauce. We had two special guests. Cindy of Cindy Hattersley Design. Cindy recently moved to the Paso Robles area but visits the Bay Area frequently to see her cute granddaughter, Summer. And, Linda, a surprise guest arranged by the Contessa for Kim. Apparently Linda is responsible for introducing the Contessa to Kim’s blog years ago. She was a delight and we had so much fun.
Not realizing we’d be in the midst of a once in 1000 year heatwave, I planned for lunch on the patio. And because last year we were plagued with flies and yellow jackets, Jim finally talked me into these table top fly repellent contraptions. I’m not sure why I resisted them, they work! As for the yellow jackets, they’ve not been bad this year but I still hide a hot dog suspended over warm, soapy water near our water feature. I’m pleased to report not one a fly or yellow jacket crashed our party.
Happy Birthday, Kim!
A (VERY) FEW FALL TOUCHES
Despite the ridiculous heat, I did add a couple of fall touches to our great room.
I replaced my round Serena & Lily tray with this square basket tray. I bought the basket tray several months ago intending to use it on the coffee table. Then it got put into service as an actual serving tray on the patio. It’s now made its way to the intended coffee table location. I added small fall-ish filler to the glass hurricane (similar here) with an unscented pillar candle and updated my coffee table books with a new to me book, Pacific Natural by Jenni Kayne, and Ted Kennedy Watson’s new release, Guide to Stylish Entertaining. The small, textured box is from William Sonoma Home and vessel/votive is from Wendy Bellisimo. I have the Wendy Bellisimo vessels in large and small sizes and they’re usually on the back patio. They’re beautiful lit up by candles at night. Of course, my woven Serena & Lily coasters made it onto the tray. The quickest way to get on my bad side is to put a glass down on a bare naked table. And, yes, that is a TV remote. Real life, people.
Back to the Wendy Bellisimo vessels, turns out they make good flower vases too and I pressed them into service for Kim’s birthday lunch filled with hydrangeas from our garden. These vessels are POPULAR and frequently sold out, but you can sign up to get an email when restock is available. Update: my post is well timed, the stone vessels ( all sizes) are back in stock as of Sunday, September 11th … but they’ll go fast.)
I bought three kinds of vase filler for this large, wooden bowl. The bowl came from Salsa Trading Company in Sonoma, years ago, and it’s one of my favorite things. Because its so big, I used an inexpensive filler from Home Goods for a base (similar to this) and topped it in with a fancier fall filler and dried orange slices.
Confession. It’s late. Very late. And I’m exhausted. I can’t find links for these vase fillers, but I’ll locate them tomorrow and update … sorry. Ok … they’re updated!!!
TED KENNEDY WATSON HOME TOUR ON QUINTESSENCE
Last month I shared my excitement over Ted Kennedy Watson’s new (and second) book, Guide to Stylish Entertaining. It arrived a couple of weeks ago and took pride of place on the great room coffee table. See above. As part of Ted’s book launch extravaganza, the Quintessence blog released a tour of Ted and husband, Ted Sive’s, Vashon Island home named WestWard. I love the simplicity of WestWard and how the Ted’s entertain so stylishly out of a relatively compact, but utterly charming, kitchen. Everything about their home and entertaining style is perfection.
Ted and Ted’s Upstate New York home, Hawthorne, got the Quintessence treatment a few years ago. You can see it here.
LUXURY REAL ESTATE DREAMS
Earlier in the week Jim and I had the good fortune to attend an amazing soiree … just a hop skip and a jump up the street in our neighboring town of Lafayette. Hosted by our favorite real estate pros, the Dana Green Team, inside the gates of this stunning estate where we mingled with fellow DG clients, sipped wine and nibbled on delicious appetizers.
It was dusk when we were here and my pictures are terrible. The real estate listing photos are much better (obviously) so let’s look around some more …
And we asked questions about the current real estate market. After two years of insane rapidly rising prices, the market’s settled a bit, and interest rates have gone up, and everyone wants to know what does this mean for buyer and sellers? A major area of interest was first time home buyers. We’re all concerned about our kids, right?! Until recently sky-high prices, and insane overbidding presented discouraging obstacles for first time home ownership. Of course, Dana explained what she sees happening in the market and really put things in perspective for us. As with any market there are positives with the negatives. Dana sends out a great newsletter that does the same thing, minus the cocktails. It’s always the first email I open because … I’m real estate obsessed.
Back to this amazing, gated estate. The main house is 4 bedroom, 5.5 baths and 6390 square feet on 2.64 acres. Oh and it’s on a highly (HIGHLY) desirable street. You can see the listing here. And if you’d like to buy it, we’re just up the road and will be your best friends.
Thanks, Dana, Todd, Lauren, Wendy, Allison, Sarah and Matt for hosting us at your fun cocktail hour. We had a great time, met interesting people, learned a few things and more importantly fully enjoyed your new froze machine. We may have one more house sale and purchase in our future and it’s reassuring to know that when the time comes you’ve got us.
I just asked Jim to describe the event and he said ‘market update with key clients.’ Oh my gosh, I’ve been drafting this forever and he sums it up in five words. Good grief, no wonder I’m running late. Anyhoo …
In the meantime, if you’re considering purchasing or selling a home in this area please avail yourselves of the experts at the Dana Green Team. In addition to being the number one real estate team, they’re super fun and you’ll want to be their BFF.
So there you have it, the high and low lights from my week.
Let’s go see what Kim and Elizabeth are sharing.
As always, I appreciate your visit and welcome your thoughts in the comments below.
Cheers from Snowberry!