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.

New O.C. history resource hub now online!

At long last, the Orange County Historical Society has a new website! Thanks to Daralee Ota, (of Olive Through The Ages fame), who did the design/build work, it's not only easily navigable, attractive, and up-to-date, but it's also downright useful!

OCHS' website committee got their heads together to decide what should and shouldn't appear on the site, and I think they hit the nail pretty much on the head. A few sections will be added later, but the crucial stuff is up already. Many, many more historical articles and materials will also be added later, although there's already some good stuff you can start reading. My favorite bits of the site?
  • Orange County History Articles - Watch for this one to grow in the coming months. Phil Brigandi, with help from the rest of the committee, led the effort to round up interesting content for the whole site. This page has some of the best.
  • Search Engine - The fun part is that it also searches the articles on tons of County Courier back issues. Lots of local history content to explore! I'll be even more excited about this when we have all our newsletters back through the 1960s scanned, OCR'ed, and posted.
  • History of OCHS -  A surprisingly interesting story in its own right.
  • Photo Gallery - Historical photos are always interesting. Member Betsy Vigus rounded up some great examples of images from OCHS' large collection.
  • Q&A - At every board meeting, our official Society historian, Ken Leavens, reads the queries he's received and also his responses. It's always fascinating. This new interactive section captures some of that.
  • Suggested Reading - Don't know where to start with local history? This list gives you some great places to start.
  • Publications - OCHS has a lot of great books for sale that you aren't likely to find on Amazon and or at Barnes & Noble. Now it's super easy to find them and order them via mail or PayPal. There's some very cool stuff on this list, and hopefully it will now end up in readers' hands.
  • Basics - Perhaps most importantly, the site tells you pretty much anything you want to know about the Society, including what they do, who they are, how to get involved, and what events are coming up.
Sorry to ramble on, but I've been wanting to see OCHS do this for a long time. And now that the first stage is done and online, it's already better than I'd hoped. My thanks to everyone involved.

Tom Cruise on W - I'll Take What He's Having

Have you seen the new issue of W Magazine with Tom Cruise on the cover?
How can it be that the middle aged Cruise looks like he's 18 years old in the cover photo
if not younger?
Surgery? Photoshop? Top Secret beauty products?
I want to know.
Whatever his beauty routine is, I want to get in on it.

And, on the topic of age
Slate has yet another article on pre-teen runway models.
When Did High Fashion Models Get So Young

In recent years, the debate over underage fashion models has reached a fever pitch. Ondria Hardin starred in a sultry Prada ad at 13. An Australian modeling agency recently announced that it wanted 13-year-olds because 16-year-olds were “too old.”
when did 16 year old girls become too old to model?

Imagine Doutzen Kroes being too old...or too big...for Prada.
“I probably fit a sample size once, when I was 11 or 12,” the Dutch model Doutzen Kroes has said, explaining why she left high fashion to work for brands like Victoria’s Secret. Who but an undeveloped teen could fit a skirt with a 33-inch hip?
who indeed?

But read the article all the way to the last paragraph.
You will be amazed to read the justification for why t'ween models are in demand.

Pinterest versus Blogging

Do you love Pinterest as much as much as I do?
Where else can you find photos of everything from clothes to recipes, jewelry to gardens.
It's like twitter but with gorgeous images and without the silly tweets.

I like to look at pretty things on Pinterest
especially pretty gardens like in this image

But La Dolce Vita blog asks today: Is Pinterest Hurting The Blog World?

I don't think so, but I am a reader who enjoys a cleverly written post.

Are you on Pinterest?
Do you think that it is hurting the blog world?

Los Alamitos mystery dude, Anaheim tour, etc.

I stopped past the Los Alamitos Museum today. It's quite an interesting array of stuff they have in that old County Fire Station. (More on that later.) I was curious about this painting, (shown above), which was on display with no identifying information. The docents, who were otherwise quite helpful and friendly, couldn't tell me about the painting either. I'm wondering if anyone reading this will have an answer for me. The painting appears to be on wood and seems quite old. But I am not an expert on these things.

The Anaheim Neighborhood Association will hold a Historic Home Tour, May 26-27. See their website for details.

Architect Richard Dodd will present the program "TheEvolution of Architectural Styles in Orange County: 1776 to the Present," on June 6, at 7pm, in the Central Patio Room at Sherman Gardens & Libraryin Corona del Mar. The program is free if you RSVP to (949) 673-2261.

Pics of Lady Gaga Shoes Footwear

Pics of Lady Gaga Shoes Footwear

Around Town - The Los Angeles Garden Tour

Today we had a perfect sunny day for the annual Los Angeles Garden Tour

Most of the ladies at the event were in floaty flowery frocks and big hats
but I dressed down for the occasion
in a khaki cotton suit by Nine West ($24.99 at Ross!),

and hot pink Escada loafers and Celine bag, both vintage 2001

After seeing my my belted khaki suit...perhaps more appropriate for an African safari...
( if I had my own Denys Finch Hatton to take me big game hunting...and then wash my hair alfresco)
my daughter kindly asked me where my bolt action rifle was.
I responded by accessorizing with vintage jewelry rather than buck shot.
like this antique Victorian diamond flower brooch in 18K
appropriate I thought for spending time some of the prettiest gardens in the city
and these adorable diamond earrings in 18K
and in the spirit of keeping it simple
a Cartier watch and a diamond line bracelet in 18K.

I would have posted some images of the amazing gardens that I walked through today
but we were not allowed to take photos on the tour in order to protect the privacy of the homeowners.
Fair enough. 
The last garden on the tour, which I missed because I had to get back to the office,
was at the Playboy Mansion.
I heard that it was amazing with mature redwoods, the famous grotto, peacocks and even a zoo!
Apparently, there were no bunny sightings on the property.

He had a key. But his plumbers still had to break in.

On September 4, 1969, President Richard Nixon received the "Key to Orange County" at his Western White House in San Clemente. (Who else has received these keys?) The key, quoth the AP, was "presented to him by William Hirstein, chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors in a ceremony... The President also holds a framed resolution authorizing the giving of the 'gold key' to the President. The resolution had been presented to him by Alton Allen, (right) 5th District Orange County Supervisor."

I always get Alton Allen mixed up with Mr. Slate from The Flintstones.

Speaking of Richard Nixon, did you know that Orange County only has two National Historic Landmarks: The ModjeskaHouse and the birthplace of Richard Nixon? One of my friends at OC Parks, Carey Baughman writes, "There is currently a photo contest for National Historic Landmarks. Winning photos are placed on a national website and printed in a calendar. Each photographer can submit up to ten photos, but only one photograph from each site." The contest runs until June 13.  Photos should be submitted to the following flickr group:, which also includes entry rules and other contest information.

Donna Summer RIP

So many of our generation are sad today about the passing of Donna Summer.I've enjoyed reading the many tributes to her in the blogosphere today.
For an excellent post on the brilliant Donna Summer
check our Stirred Straight Up With A Twist

She was an amazing talent.

Estate Jewelry Look of the Day - How To Wear An Antique Slide Necklace

Have I mentioned before that I love jewelry?That would be pretty much all jewelry, old and new,
and I especially love seeing antique or vintage jewelry
worn in a modern and fresh way.
Here's an example

A caftan style shift with simple lines worn with an antique necklace from Beladora2

Every time I pick up a piece of antique jewelry I wonder about many things.
Who was the original owner?
Did she get the item as a gift and if so for what purpose?
What was her life like when she was wearing the piece?
Was she happy or sad?

In some ways, holding an antique in my hand is like having one part of a story or one piece of a historical puzzle, and I can't help but want to have the rest of the pieces in order to put the puzzle together and to know the whole story.

But since that can't be done, I'll settle for wearing that antique piece now and creating a new story to go with it.

Enjoying The Great Outdoors At Home

Are you loving the trend towards creating outdoor rooms for entertaining as much as I am?
Here in California our economy is a mess
but our weather is awesome
So why not take advantage of the great outdoors
even if is only a small patio
I especially love to see fireplaces incorporated into outdoor spaces.

These images are from the Pottery Barn
but there are many other vendors on the net with wonderful furniture.
Ah...let the summer begin!

Education - Florida Style

What do you do when your students can't pass the exam?
You lower the passing score...of course!

Passing score lowered for FCAT Writing exam
Emergency meeting called over drastic drop in FCAT scores

Sadly, the 99% are going to stay in the 99%
especially if they don't learn how to read, write and do basic math.
Lowering the passing score isn't going to help these students in the long run.

This would never happen in Japan, Korea, China, Russia, France, Germany, etc.
Why is this deemed to be acceptable here?
Just asking.

The Magnificent Ideas of Adidas Originals Basketball Shoes

The Magnificent Ideas of Adidas Originals Basketball Shoes

Greece and Other Things That I Don't Understand

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

European governments have poured money into Greece since its first rescue was agreed to in April 2010 in a bid to keep the country in the euro and prove that monetary union, a symbol of European post-war integration, is irrevocable.
After receipt of a 7.5 billion-euro tranche in March, Greece now owes other countries more than 80 billion euros in bailout funds. The European Financial Stability Facility said 4.2 billion euros of rescue cash will be disbursed to the nation today.
The ECB also stands to lose much if Greece walks away from its obligations. First, the central bank bought about 50 billion euros of the government’s bonds to push down yields and help the nation retain access to the capital markets.
In addition, the ECB’s so-called Target2 system -- which tallies trade imbalances between the 17 national central banks using the single currency -- indicates that the Bank of Greece owes its counterparts 104 billion euros, according to Whittaker.

Fifteen years ago my friends in France and Germany predicted that something like this would happen.

With Greece in default and Spain next on the list,
I would like to know why the dollar isn't yet at parity with the euro.
Maybe the fact that the US is underwater too, might have something to do with this.

I've been waiting to take a vacation to the UK and France until the euro came down significantly against the dollar.  At this rate I might be waiting a long time.

On the other hand, I've heard that hotel prices in the Greek islands are reasonable...

Hewes Park

 There's a lot to be learned from an artifact as simple as a citrus crate label. In this case, I'm posting three labels featuring Hewes Park. David Hewes was most famous as the man who provided the golden spike for 1869 ceremony at Promontory Summit, Utah, which completed the building of the transcontinental railroad. He'd become rich as a grading contractor in San Francisco during the Gold Rush, and in the early 1880s he brought himself and his wealth to Orange County.
Hewes purchased a large ranch between Tustin and El Modena and had much of it planted in citrus groves in 1892. According to Phil Brigandi's indispensable, Orange County Place Names, A to Z, "In 1905 [Hewes] began development of Hewes Park on a small hill above the northwest corner of Esplanade Street and La Veta Avenue. It was a private park, built for the public as a gift from Hewes."

The park was designed by Robert G. Fraser, who also designed the original Busch Gardens in Pasadena. Hewes Park was soon an important Orange County landmark and even appeared on many postcards and in promotional brochures for the region. Its beautiful trees, flower gardens, and barbeques were later joined by a miniature golf course, a Japanese tea garden, and other amenities.
Hewes built two citrus packing houses and his fruit bore labels reading, "D. Hewes, El Modena Highlands." After his death, the business was managed by D. E. Huff, who reorganized the operation as the David Hewes Realty Corporation in 1920. The land was subdivided for sale in 1923, but the packing operation continued under the name David Hewes Orange & Lemon Association. The packing houses both burned in 1947.

Hewes Park also met its end in the 1940s when it was purchased and large homes were built on the site. I'm told one of the homes sitting atop the park today is that of Robert Schuller of Crystal Cathedral fame.

Anaheim, Esther Cramer, Doris Walker, citrus, canyons, etc.

 I took all of the photos in today's post at the Orange County Historical Society's outstanding tour of the Anaheim Cemetery yesterday. Local historian Cynthia Ward (also on the board of the Orange County Cemetery District), led the tour. That's her in the photo above, wearing her Victorian hoop skirt.
I was once a bit skeptical about cemetery tours, but they really are an excellent way to not only appreciate the grounds and design, but also to provide a framework to talk about the individuals and families that built and grew a community over the centuries.
Speaking of memorials and remembering those who were important to the community, services for Esther Cramer will be held at 11am, June 9th at La Habra United Methodist Church. The parking will undoubtedly be tight. If you're young and spry, you may want to park a good way off, to let the older folks park near the church.

Another remembrance of a beloved Orange County historian came recently in the form of a sculpture, approved by the City of Dana Point, in honor of Doris I. Walker-Smith. Read more about it in the O.C. Register.

The Metabolic Studio made a grant of $10,000 to the Save Our Orchard Coalition's legal defense fund to save the Sexlinger property in Santa Ana. This land includes the remnants of one of the last orange groves in central Orange County. The current owner of the land wants to build 24 homes there. If the Coalition gets some bigger donations, perhaps they can buy the land outright and everyone will be happy.

A tour of the gardens of Modjeska and Silverado Canyons will be held May 19. The garden tour will be held 9am-1pm. A catered lunch and tour of the historic Helena Modjeska house and gardens will be held from noon to 3pm. Tickets are $20 and raise funds for the Silverado Children's Center and the Modjeska house. To purchase tickets, contact Bonnie Smith at (714) 649-2382.