Most Attractive Item of Giuseppe Zanotti Shoes 2012

Most Attractive Item of Giuseppe Zanotti Shoes 2012

Around Town - A Day In LA

For the last 20 years I have been reading that downtown Los Angeles has under gone a renaissance.
Refurbishment of old architecture into loft residences, hip new galleries and restaurants, classy hotels and concert venues, you know...the whole bit.
But from what I could tell after my day spent in jury duty this week at the criminal courthouse on Temple Street
I didn't really see the renaissance in action.
Yes, construction seemed to be going on everywhere,
but Los Angeles, unlike Boston, New York or San Francisco,
is still a city that I wouldn't want to walk around in.
Maybe someday downtown LA will become as desirable as SoHo
but that someday still seems to be a long way off.

Best Sporty Shoes ; Air Jordan IX Photo Blue

Best Sporty Shoes ; Air Jordan IX Photo Blue

Around Town - A Final Fling For Foie Gras

Oh California...why do you do these things to me?Banning foie gras, one of my five favorite foods,
is that really necessary?
This photo of foie gras was snagged from Just Luxe
California Chefs Fight Ban On Foie Gras

I'm not saying that I support the original method of force feeding ducks and geese
but isn't there some sort of humane alternative?

Celebrity Chef Wolfgang Puck has famously supported the ban on foie gras since its inception, while television chef, author, and world traveler Anthony Bourdain believes there are alternatives to the way the dish is procured. Bourdain, who visited the Hudson Valley Foie Gras farm on an episode of his show "No Reservations," has said "Every duck for foie gras that I know at Hudson Valley, for instance — and I've been there, I've walked freely everywhere, all around. When the ducks come at you when a human enters the barn, if all the ducks in the place move towards you, that is an indication that their experience with humans, it's not awful...A distressed, unhappy animal is bad food...inarguably that kind of suffering and stress leads directly to the quality of food that we don't want."

In the soon to be demise of this delicious dish, a group of local chefs have preparred special menus last month as their last hurrah for foie.
From LA Weekly
California Chefs Host Foie Gras Super Dinner
In protest of California's rapidly approaching foie gras ban, C.H.E.F.S. (the Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards), an organization that sounds like a maniacal conglomerate out of a James Bond film, or perhaps a culinary-slanted take on the Avengers, announced yesterday that it will be undertaking a massive four-restaurants-in-one-night series of dinners loaded with 23 star chefs -- enough toque power to be worthy of big-screen adaptation. Melisse, the Royce at the Langham, Lemon Moon and Animal will host simultaneous dinners on May 14, with each assembling a team of guest chefs from all across California.

These special dinners will continue through this month and I hope to be able to enjoy one.
If not...I will just have another reason to start planning a trip to France.

A day in La Habra

I attended historian Esther Cramer's funeral today in La Habra. It was a very nice service, and the reception provided an opportunity for a lot of old friends to see each other and talk about Esther and all the topics she cared about. Other historical folks in attendance included County Archivist Susan Berumen, noted Orange County historians Phil Brigandi and Diann Marsh, and Esther's daughter, Cindy, who's involved in the O.C. Pioneer Council. Orange County Historical Commissioners in attendance included Steve Adamson, Pamela Harrell, Don Dobmeier, Lynne Yauger, and their longtime OC Parks staff liaison, Griselda Castillo. Also in attendance were former Commissioner Margaret Salisbury, historical exhibits guru Carlota Haider, and members of the La Habra Old Settlers Historical Society. (I'm sure I'm forgetting someone, for which I apologize in advance.)

After the reception, Brigandi and I visited the La Habra Historical Museum -- another product of Esther's hard work and community spirit. The museum had a special exhibit on Esther's life, which I'm sharing a bit of in today's photos. The image above comes from a document produced by Alpha Beta when she ran their Consumer Affairs office.
When you consider all Esther accomplished for local history, it seems like she must have spent every waking moment of her life on historical work. But clearly, it was just one among many facets of her very full life. That just makes her more remarkable in my eyes. You would be astonished to learn just how many of the worthwhile Orange County historical projects from the past 40 years bear her fingerprints.
 The display included a number of the books Esther wrote, (shown above), and even some of her baby clothes. (She really did donate all kinds of stuff to the museum, didn't she?)
 While we were there, Phil solved a mystery that's been vexing the docents. They had this gizmo (shown below) and had no idea what it was. Phil knew immediately, and soon the whole staff (and a number of others) were gathered around to hear him describe how this "walnut gatherer" was used to pick walnuts off the ground without stooping. It works on very much the same principle as the "shag bags" used to pick up golf balls on driving ranges.
I'll share more about our visit to the museum in a future post. For a new museum, they have a lot going for them. I look forward to seeing them grow and develop in the coming years.

How To Wear Estate Jewelry - The Chanel J-12 Watch in White For Summer

I love white jeans for the summer
don't you?
They pair perfectly with navy, black and tan tops and blazers
which are all staple colors in my wardrobe
This summer in addition to my white jeans I would like to wear this Chanel J-12 diamond watch in bright white.
It's not too fancy and it's not too fussy.
Here's the close-up shot
I'm not necessarily a fan of all things Chanel, but I do think that this watch is cool.
What do you think?
What will you wear with your white jeans this summer?

Architectural salvage in Santa Ana

The image above is from the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society (SAHPS) coloring book, which you can still download from their website. The illustration shown here depicts the old Santa Ana Public Library, which one stood on Sycamore St., just south of the Old Courthouse.

SAHPS is  having a two-day sale of architectural salvage items this Friday and Saturday, June 8th & 9th, 10 am to 3 pm. You'll be able to purchase elements from local vintage buildings, circa 1890-1920, and add them to your own home! Talk about recycling!

The sale will be held at All-Aboard Mini Storage, Space 93, 1030 E. 4th St, Santa Ana. Enter using gate code 931030#. Cash and checks only. First come, first served.

Much of this material was recently salvaged from Santa Ana's historic Lacy District, including beautiful hardwood doors, windows, hardware, several amazing pocket doors, as well as swivel doors, a butler's pass through, and two large floor-to-ceiling Craftsman-style built ins.

Questions? Contact Lisa at

Around Town - Obama Shuts Down Rodeo Drive

Yesterday evening when I walked out of my officethis is what I saw
Rodeo Drive North
Rodeo Drive South

Rodeo Drive and other streets throughout the flat of Beverly Hills were shut down completely for all car traffic because the President was at the Beverly Wilshire and local points elsewhere to raise money.
Have I mentioned in the past what this does to create traffic jams all across the the west side of town.
My ride home was even more of a mess than usual.
I can't wait until this election is over.
Enough already...

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)

It’s a rare thing to meet, let alone have a conversation with your childhood hero. I was lucky enough to have that experience on numerous occasions. Outside my parents, a few teachers, and a couple mentors – people who I interacted with on a daily basis – Ray Douglas Bradbury influenced me as much as anyone. Ray died Tuesday, June 5, 2012, in Los Angeles.

The San Francisco Chronicle has an outstanding obituary, which I won’t try to top. But I wanted to share a few of my own memories of the man.

Like so many others, I discovered Bradbury’s work when I was in high school. I became an immediate fan for life. (Luckily, none of my teachers assigned his books, thereby sparing me the horror of having to analyze all the wonder and joy out of them.) Soon I was buying all the Bradbury books I could, and regularly borrowing out-of-print ones from my local library. Then I discovered his more recent first-editions were still affordable, launching a book-collecting addiction that I’ve never been able to shake.

I attended my first Bradbury lecture and book signing at the Costa Mesa Public Library sometime around 1989. I brought a couple books for him to sign, but I also brought a watercolor portrait I’d painted of him, using photos from the L.A. Times as reference. Years later, he mentioned to me that the painting was up on the wall of his office at his desert home. That news was one of the greatest honors I've ever received.

Over time, I attended enough of his lectures that I could have done my own “Ray Bradbury Tonight!” performances, the way Hal Holbrook channels Mark Twain. Not only did his words and philosophy stick with me, but (in retrospect) I was also learning how a good public speaker operates. I suppose most public speakers discover the same tricks eventually. I learned them by watching Ray Bradbury.

While I came to know his style of lecturing pretty well, you never knew what response you'd get from him when talking one-on-one. There was almost always passion behind his words. Although he'd fully embraced Southern California as his home, he never adopted the typical "laid-back" attitude. I remember his strong disappointment with his old friend (L.A. mayor) Tom Bradley for his lack of leadership in the face of the Rodney King verdict. He wasn't just irritated by it -- he was sad and nearly sputtering with disbelief. 

When "virtual reality" was coming to the fore, I remember asking Ray (who'd been the first to dream up the concept in "The Veldt,") what he thought about that technology not just coming to pass, but also being used to develop a computer game based on his Martian Chronicles. "That's fine," he said. "But they'd better get it right, or I'll track them down and kick 'em in the balls!"

Ray, of course, would do no such thing. His demeanor was more like Santa Claus than an internationally celebrated author.

As one of the very first sci-fi fanboys himself, Ray was more than gracious about corresponding and taking time to talk with fans of his work. I don't think it was an "ego thing." I think he genuinely loved people, and author/book events were a great opportunity for him to meet and greet thousands of them.

Ray's connections to Orange County were many -- so many, in fact, that he wrote a lengthy introduction to  a book of Orange County photos published by the Chicago Review Press in 1988. He was a regular visitor here, often coming down at no charge to lend support to various Friends of the Library groups and to visit with friends. He also set a number of his stories here, including "The Man in the Rorschach Shirt," which was set on an OCTA bus cruising down PCH in Newport Beach.

In fact, my favorite moment with Ray came at an event in his honor held at Muldoon's Pub in Newport Beach. Whoever put the event together clearly wanted to have a world-famous author to show off at what turned out to be a local "society" function. But once the accolades were doled out and the magazine photos taken, the socialites all turned to each other to schmooze. Ray was left sitting pretty much by himself, and I sat down next to him. He seemed happy to have the company. There was no competition for his time, and we sat and talked about writing and about the future.

What particularly sticks in my head was discussing his short story "The Toynbee Convector," which he admitted held his solution to avoiding all the dystopian futures he'd warned us about in books like "Fahrenheit 451." The underlying message of "The Toynbee Convector?" Optimism for a great future is the key ingredient that makes it possible for people to build a great future.

I suppose it sounds simple, but framed in his poetic prose, it seems the perfect answer to the politicians and pundits who tell us to lower our expectations and simply accept that things can't be better than they were. The optimism and can-do spirit that put men the moon brought us a technological revolution that even now continues to expand exponentially. Compare that to our national attitude today. (Or, to continue the metaphor, compare it to the manned space program today.) The world needs a few Toynbee Convectors right now. And Lord knows it needs more Ray Bradburys.

Wonderful Words For A Wedding or My Nomination For Blog Post Of The Year

Like most of you, I've enjoyed reading the many by invitation only wedding inspired posts by my favorite bloggers.
And, I was particularly moved by the lovely post by Tish at A Femme d'un Certain Age.
Tish posted the speech written by her 'reason for living in France', that she gave in his place at her own daughter's wedding.
Here's just a part:
1.) Love is easy -- it's simply chemistry.
2.) Happiness is not merely a word. It is a decision.
3.) Once that decision is taken, it allows you to face any situation no matter how difficult. (And you can be sure there will be difficult situations.)
4.) And how about fidelity? Fidelity is the supreme luxury one offers the other no matter what the price in order to preserve and protect your precious couple.
5.) A sense of humor makes up for the rest and heaven knows you and Will are rather gifted in that domain.

Not that anyone asked my opinion but I nominate Tish's post as the blog post of the year.

Conspicuous Consumption American Style - Showing The Goods

Lest you think that I only comment on conspicuous consumption Italian designer style
I saw this lovely young lady at the Antique and Estate jewelry show in Las Vegas last weekend.

Aside from her very obvious and stunning assets
she is wearing a bikini top with over 500 total carats of yellow and white diamonds.

Obviously, I know that this is just brand the Prada racing yacht.
But, unlike the yacht, which needs a crew and extra capital to keep it seaworthy
and this diamond top can easily be taken apart
and the diamonds can be reused in something that is actually wearable.

Just saying.

Royal Hawaiian and Don the Beachcomber

For those who wondered what happened to the remains of the Polynesian decor at Laguna Beach's late lamented Royal Hawaiian,... Wonder no more! I had lunch with Art Snyder, owner of Don the Beachcomber's (in Huntington Beach) today, and he told me he purchased the majority of the really nice interior decor pieces when the Royal Hawaiian closed and is starting to put them up around his own restaurant. I can't think of a more perfect home for them! The photo above shows the elaborate outrigger carving by Leroy Schmaltz that once graced the Royal Hawaiian, now hanging over the "second" bar at Don's.

By the way, Don's is hosting an International Tiki Marketplace event (sort of a big tiki swap-meet, shown in the photo below) on the first Sunday of every month, 11am to 4pm. I hadn't attended in many months and was pleasantly surprised to see that it's moved from the front of the restaurant to a larger room in the back. Lots of familiar faces there too, including Bob and Leroy of the magnificent Oceanic Arts, tiki artist Bosko (who it was a pleasure to finally meet in person), Brent Walker (a fellow tiki fan and son of South County historian Doris Walker), and many others. On the stage were musicians from the islands, and a performance by local favorite King Kukulele.

The always-gracious Art Snyder gave me a behind-the-scenes tour of Don's (formerly the old Sam's Seafood), and shared some historical tidbits about the building itself that raised more historical questions than they answered. I've been trying to research and write a solid history of Sam's Seafood for years now, and I think my job just became more difficult. I now have a number of puzzling new leads to follow. When and if they lead somewhere, I'll let you know.

Dealing Up in These Rajon Rondo Shoes 2012

Dealing Up in These Rajon Rondo Shoes 2012

Anaheim Historical Society, Diann Marsh & Knott's

Remember my post last March about the Anaheim Orange & Lemon Association? Me neither. But the newly (and I do mean NEWLY) restored 1919 packing house I highlighted in that post is the location for the Anaheim Historical Society's annual dinner, June 14, at 5:30pm. Better still, the speaker is historian and preservationist Diann Marsh, who co-founded the Anaheim Historical Society and accomplished so many other good things in the name of Orange County history. The $30 ticket also includes a tour of the packing house and dinner at the new "Good Food Hall." To attend, send your check to Anaheim Historical Society, PO Box 927, Anaheim, CA 92815. For more information email

I wish I could attend, but I will be attending to about a thousand details in advance of the Orange County Historical Society's annual dinner at Knott's Berry Farm the following evening. But there's no reason you can't attend both!

Speaking of Knott's, keen theme park observer Dana Hundley tipped me off that the music in Ghost Town is about halfway fixed. Let me explain,...

Recently, Knott's has made some distinct improvements/restorations to Ghost Town -- except they also replaced the traditional Western music usually piped into its "dusty" streets with modern rock and pop hits! Naturally, it put a major damper on the area's theme and ambiance. Guests were confused by it. Knott's fans and Knott's employees hated it.

So as of this week the modern music has been replaced (cue the cheering and applause),... with old-timey fiddle-music covers of modern rock and pop songs! (Cue sudden silence, followed by puzzled grumbling and raised eyebrows.)

But sometimes half a victory is better than none at all. And as I've pointed out before, the positive infrustracture changes at Knott's are a lot more important than the music. Music can be changed with the flip of a switch. Basic infrastructure is a serious investment, which is certainly appreciated by those of us who care about the things that make Knott's special. They get a big thumbs up for details like returning the old water pump to Main St., bringing back the concrete dance hall girls (Marilyn and Cecelia, still sitting on their bench), repainting and repairing buildings as needed, fixing effects on the Calico Mine Ride, removing visual clutter, and "repaving" the streets with natural-looking decomposed granite -- which looks a lot more authentic than pavement. Way to go, Knott's Berry Farm! Each new step lately seems to be in the right direction!

Laguna artwork recovered from the 1920s

I noticed this bronze at what used to be The Pottery Shack (now the "Old Pottery Place") on Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach last week. The plaque below reads, "Julia Bracken Bronze Relief: The plaster original for this bronze relief was completed in 1924 by Julia Bracken Wendt, a nationally known sculptor active in Laguna Beach at the time and married to local plein air painter William Wendt. The plaster mold was found severely damaged at a yard sale and purchased by local resident Anne Frank for $50. Recognizing what was once apparently a beautiful work of art, she researched its origin with local sculptor Marvin Johnson. Through the help of authenticator Dewitt McCall, they were alble to identify it as the work of Julia Bracken. Painstakingly restored by sculptor Johnson and with funding provided by The Community Art Project and Laguna Beach Books, the bronze was once again cast in 2006 for display at the Old Pottery Place."

Conspicuous Consumption Italian Style

Giorgio ArmaniYes, there is no question that that he is an extremely talented designer.
He is also a brilliant businessman as we all know.
But what is he up to now?
The WSJ told us in their profile of him last weekend.
The Future of Armani
Giorgio Armani single-handedly built a billion-dollar brand his own way, but where does his empire go from here?

One of Armani's properties
Armani on his uber-yacht

Few people in the fashion world are as entwined with their brands. In most companies, a creative director designs and an executive manages. Armani does both. Many important designers, including Karl Lagerfeld and Marc Jacobs, work under contract for brands that aren't their own. Armani hasn't designed for anyone else in more than 30 years. Most houses are owned by large conglomerates, and for those that still belong to their founding families, ownership is usually shared. Armani owns 100 percent of Giorgio Armani SpA.
I have enormous respect for how he has built his empire, I really do.
And I don't begrudge anyone for building a successful business.
But when I see photos of him cavorting posing on his uber-yacht and photos of his properties, it just reminds me that his profit margins are too high.
Cavalli uber-yacht

Prada's America's Cup uber racing yacht

Like Roberto Cavalli and Miuccia Prada...fellow uber-yacht owners, that kind of in your face conspicuous consumption just makes me feel that these designers are laughing all the way to their off shore bank accounts.

Is it only me, or are there any designer brands or product that you just wont buy on principal?

In Memoriam

Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The quote is hardly needed as this picture (via Blackfive) says everything one needs to know about Memorial Day.
Suggested reading this Memorial Day from the New York Times

The Amazing Snap of Reebok Sporty Shoes 2012

The Amazing Snap of Reebok Sporty Shoes 2012

How To Wear Estate Jewelry - Cuffed Like Charlize Theron

We were very happy to provide jewelry for the feature shoot with Charlize Theron for InStyle Magazine.She looks so pretty on the cover.
And I love the way that the stylist paired this coppery goddess gown

with this Tiffany Cuff bracelet from
Engraved with a date from 1914, it is amazing to think that this vintage Tiffany cuff is almost 100 years old. It is certainly as wearable today as it was in the Art Deco Era.

And then we have Ms. Theron looking long, leggy and lovely in these feature shots in basic black
mixing it up with these bracelets from

I have no special plans for this holiday weekend but I am looking forward to what I hope to be a couple of warm sunny days to relax with a book.
Do you have special plans for this weekend?

How To Wear Estate Jewelry - Amethysts With Gray For Workwear Everyday

Inspired by Lisa at Amid Privilege who gets to wear jeans and a sweater to work
(and she looks great in them)
I thought that I would post my work wardrobe today.

It won't be a surprise to anyone who reads BHB and who knows my uber thrifty ways
that I spend the minimum on my clothing
and on the kind of trendy accessories that will either wear out and/or go out of style in a matter of months.
Since simplicity is the key to my work wardrobe, I tend to wear only gray, navy and black clothes at the office and accent those clothes with scarves and jewelry.
So voila, my outfit du jour
a charcoal gray suit by Calvin Klein ($39 at Ross), a purple t-shirt by Anne Klein ($12 at Marshalls) and a purple floral scarf by Mango ($29 at JC Penny).

But I do invest in things that are durable and that have actual intrinsic value, such as estate jewelry.
(Costume jewelry may be on trend but it has zero intrinsic value, trust me on this)

I love purple and gray as a color combination so I tend to pair amethysts with my gray wardrobe.

Do you have a a particular color combination that you favor?
And, does your work wardrobe tend to have a different color palate than the rest of your clothes?

Fantasy French Farmhouse via The Countrypolitian

Have you found The Countrypolitian blog yet?

Check out her post on this lovely house that belongs to the owners of Domaine de Mourchon

Thank God, this magnificent country house isn't actually for sale
because I would covet it so.