Happy Summer Solstice!

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Summer’s HERE!!

Even though I live in Southern California I still get so excited about its official arrival, don’t you?!

Would that it last as long as it did when we were children. An eternity, it seemed.

Growing up in Vancouver, where it stayed light until almost 10pm at night, we’d ride our bikes to the park to play softball, fluorescent ‘clackers’ spinning on tire spokes, streamers flying from our handle bars until the street lights signaled it was time to go home. Occasionally a friend would show up at our front door on a horse instead of a bike and we’d end up at ‘The Barn’ where I’d marvel (be jealous) at the girls who weren’t afraid of horses the way I was. I wanted my parents to have Avocado Green appliances more than I wanted a horse of my own. I think that was telling sign of what was coming down the pipeline, don’t you?!

 As we got older, we’d walk barefoot to the beach (OK, we often hitchhiked, swear to God, but never at night and never alone. What were we thinking?? It was a different world back then) our leather fringed purses (twice as big as our cut-offs) bulging with “Sun-In”, baby oil, cigarettes, Yardley “Pot-o-Gloss”, hairbrushes, Sweet Tarts and salted sunflower seeds. No sunscreen. No sunglasses. No phones or cameras.

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Like I said, a different world.

It was sweet.

Now that I’m a grown-up (most of the time) I no longer sit in the sun. I really miss it, as well as the tan, but I know it’s not worth it. I certainly don’t wear cut-offs the size of a hang-nail and pay a hell of a lot more  to colour my hair. Friends no longer show up at the door on horseback and I own my own car, so that takes care of the hitch-hiking issue.

But let’s not get all melancholy, there’s still plenty of fun to be had when summer arrives!

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We’re so blessed here in Santa Barbara, with beautiful beaches and stunning mountains just a mile or so in from the water’s edge.

In less than 1/2 hour we can be over those mountains and into the wine regions of Los Olivos and Santa Ynez.

pink roses on my porch

Roses from my garden sit on the front porch.

My garden brings me pleasure I never would have predicted in my younger years. I wear a big hat, have my favourite wooden handled clippers… I’m half-way to wearing Liberty print gardening gloves truth be told.

My brother even bought me this so I could enjoy my evening glass of wine while I’m gardening (is this a brother gift, or what?!)

gardening glass with lid

In fact, I did a thorough walk around my property the other day and decided to buy myself another little gift to celebrate the first day of Summer;

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For the bigger jobs. and it’s cordless. So exciting! I really wanted the fluorescent green one (like my old clackers) but this one had the best rating.

Yes, times have changed.

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So what are your plans this summer?

ImageAre you looking forward to a long lazy one filled with languorous hours of reading?

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Will you stick close to home, do lots of grilling, making home made ice-creams, sorbets and popsicles with your kids?

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Mango Lassi Popsicle recipe

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Perhaps you’ll be boating like Kate? (you simply must have plenty of black & white in your summer wardrobe-but that’s another post!)

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Take a family holiday to Europe or go water-skiing on a chilly lake?

Lake Muskoka, Ontario

Beautiful Lake Muskoka, Ontario

Shasta trailerTake a road trip  (I saw this beauty in Los Olivos)

38325ab6556782aef43a2e84c94f3341Re-do a guest room in cool tones

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Update your draperies, white wash your kitchen (I’m thinking of it) or have some summer slip-covers made?

Slim Paley's car slipcoversPhoto of my car by David Tsay for House Beautiful

ha ha!  I still have the car, but I’m afraid the chintz slip covers, like my old cut-offs are way past their prime :-)

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Will you go biking, sailing, play tennis, swim your heart out, or run your first marathon

Or maybe just set a goal to read ten GREAT books?

that sounds wonderful to me!

tumblr_md1kj7Gn4s1rpx9bqo1_500And will you be looking for the “Super Moon” tonight?

(ps. I started this post on Friday night-Summer’s almost over for God’s sake)

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Me, at a friend’s home, taking a photo of a weird ring around the sun in Montecito

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See that’s the wonderful, fabulous, exciting thing about Summer

Your options are as numerous as the stars.

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*Wooden Popsicles by Johnny Hermann

HAPPY SUMMER!!!!

May it be long, fun and memorable in the best possible way.

xoxo

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“Johnny Hermann is the alter-ego of craftsman & designer Mauro Savoldi from Milan. He re-creates the vibrant, colorful magic of summer ices, recalling one of the sweetest and most nostalgic treasures of our past.”

FYI; The original “popsicle” was invented by an 11 year old boy in San Francisco in 1905.

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Ten Things I Know on This Birthday

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deep rose roses

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Ten Things I know for sure on this Birthday

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1. I know there aren’t too many things that give me more pleasure than having the luxury and time to arrange flowers from my own garden.

Mother Nature is The best therapist.

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2. I know I’d love to keep a gardening diary but probably never will.

Instead, I’ll diarize (I say it’a word and it’s MY birthdayvicariously through Monty Don’s beautiful books, the newest of which I’m eagerly awaiting delivery of;

“Gardening at Longmeadow”

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From “Gardening at Longmeadow” by Monty Don.

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3. As my birthday coincides with my newly official “Empty Nester” status, I know the future is ripe with new opportunities.

Not quite sure what they are yet, but I’m certain they’ll be presenting themselves in short order.

Or, perhaps I must go in search of them…

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4. I know my passport(s) are buffed and ready at a moment’s notice.

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mountain climbing, Sri Lanka

My fellow climbers at the summit of Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka.

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Travel is, without a doubt, one of the greatest pleasures in my life.

except for the packing.

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5. Speaking of multiple passports, this will be the FIRST time in my life and the first time our entire family will all be casting a vote for the Presidency of the United States.

And I know my vote COUNTS. :)

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6. I know that getting up early and running the other morning felt great.

Well, not the actual running part. but making the effort to do something so out of character felt wonderful.

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7. I know that I was truly inspired by the incredible athletes and their stories this summer and I hope to hold on to that inspiration until the next Olympics.

Or, at least until hockey season.

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8. I know that all my laugh lines are well earned but considering how funny my friends and family are I could actually look a lot worse.

Besides, I’d rather laugh than be totally smooth.

I’d like smooth hair though for my birthday.

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9. I know that after telling myself I was too old for leather leggings last year I now have a new pair hanging in my closet.

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Apparently I got younger over the summer :)

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10. I know that I’d like to try writing a book and if I put that thought out into the Universe it might actually come to fruition.

  I might just need the pressure of saying it to DO it.

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11. I know that every few years my husband will happily re-watch “Withnail & I ” with me and we’ll laugh our asses off and I love that about him.

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favourite film

“Withnail & I”

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12.I know I have to stop and smell those roses.

THAT, I really do know.

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13. And I still know that math is not my strong suit.

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14. I feel a bit like a kid with a brand new binder and a shiny case of sharpened pencils on the first day of school-

I want to shoot for straight “A’s” this semester!

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Lastly, for those of you that missed this on my Slim FB page;

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Is this me, you, US or what?!

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Roses. Just Roses.

..The Roses

.have arrived….

..I only wish I could share the scent with you as well as these photos

.I think you can probably imagine though, right?

.The first blooms are always so gigantic

The colours heartbreakingly beautiful

Feel free to pick one!

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The View From My Window

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Slim Paley Photo

Yesterday afternoon this little guy stopped by.  I believe he’s a “Rare Margiela Brown & Chanel Black Bird with YSL Rouge Throat” if I’m not mistaken.

Spring is upon us here in Santa Barbara.  The buds are a poppin’, the frogs are in a frenzy, and the birds are all auditioning for a Disney movie.  I’m also realizing it’s time to acknowledge a new stage in my life; I’m officially “Mature”   I now derive the greatest happiness simply from throwing open the windows at my desk and listening to the birds and…the lawnmower. I’m basking in the golden light of dusk, the scent of newly shorn grass and becoming a professional bird watcher!

Click here for my Mature Bird Watching Music :)   This song is so beautiful it makes me cry.

That’s right, I sit at the window and take photos of birds and cry. Did that bird just screech “Hormones”??!!

FLEET FOXES MEADOWLARK


Bird pillow from Timorous Beasties

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Peeking out the window behind my desk

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The Ornamental Plum trees are starting to show off

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The cocky “Alexander McQueen Fall 2011 ” bird that acts like the place is his.

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I love to cut these large branches for the front hall but they make a hecka big mess.  If you even breathe in the room beside them the petals fall off.

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The view from my desk window facing South  West toward the Sea (A bit confusing in Santa Barbara as the coastline curves at a peculiar angle here)

In another few weeks this high second story window will be almost completely sheathed in pink Cecille Brunner roses!

Often the birds perch right here against this window, but usually jump before I have my camera ready.

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The wisteria est arrivee’!

and moving outside…

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The first artichokes are popping

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Rose bushes are amping up…

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and God knows what these are called but they’re pretty darn happy at the moment

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Illustration by Christian laCroix

Christian Lacroix and the Tale of Sleeping Beauty: A Fashion Fairy Tale Memoir (February 2011- available on Amazon)

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The Golden Hour

Where are my binoculars ??

wait a minute, where’s my cocktail?!

“Birdsong” Ice jacket designed by French illustrator Pierre Marie

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Six Husbands & One Very Green Thumb

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Inspired by the beauty of “Rose Story Farm” in my previous post,  I’m going to share yet another  Santa Barbara Garden Treasure with you;

Nestled in the foothills of Montecito,  embraced within high plaster walls the colour of rare salmon, sits Lotusland, home to one of the most famous exotic gardens in the world.

This 37 acre property, although originally dating back to 1882, really found it’s most ardent custodian in 1941 when, at the urging of her last husband, it was purchased by the rather infamous Madame Ganna Walska.

Lotusland proved to be THE True Love of Madame Walska’s life. She would remain there for the next 43 years, passionately obsessed with creating the beautiful gardens we still enjoy there today.


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Large shards of bottle glass set the winding paths through the tropical gardens aglow

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Madame basking in the glory of her gardens

Born in Poland in 1887, Ganna Walska’s early years were spent as an aspiring actress and opera singer.  Ironically, despite the scandalously lavish efforts of her fourth husband to fan the flames of her musical career, Madame Walska’s reputation on the stage never scaled the heights she would achieve in the gardening world.  Whatever poor notices she may have received on stage though, she certainly made up for romantically. Ganna would eventually chalk up 6 husbands, divorcing #6 in 1946 after less than 4 years.

The Cast of Husbands;

Russian baron Arcadie d’Eingorn, a Russian officer (divorced him for drunkenness 1915)
Dr Joseph Fraenkel, a famed New York endocrinologist, died 1920,
multimillionaire sportsman and carpet tycoon Alexander Smith Cochran, married 1920, divorced 1922
industrialist Harold Fowler McCormick, married in 1922, divorced 1931
English inventor of a death ray, Harry Grindell Matthews, died 1941
Theos Bernard, her 6th and last husband, a scholar of yoga & Tibetan Buddhism, married 1942, divorced 1946

(list via Wikipedia)

Personally, I think you have to appreciate her range…going from “Death Ray Inventor” husband to Buddhist-yogi husband within a year!

I’d say those are pre-gardening hands


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A very Young Ganna

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There was much talk back in the day that Madame Walska’s relationship with her husband  Harold McCormick  was in fact the inspiration behind the screenplay for “Citizen Kane”

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But whether or not Madame Walska possessed any true talents as a singer, her gift for creating spectacular gardens remains indisputable.

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The Cactus Gardens of Lotusland are particularly impressive

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Cactus flowers resembling something from under the sea

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Madame Walska’s difficult to locate memoirs were entitled “Always Room At The Top”

No Shrinking Violet was our Ganna :)

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A Jurassic moment in the Cactus Gardens

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Lotusland overflows with delightfully creative details

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Chanel resort 2010

A look I like to think the eccentric Madame would have worn in the gardens.

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A tranquil scene in the Japanese gardens

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Who needs jewelry when you can go into the garden and fetch a beautiful fresh lotus?!

Madame Walska made very few changes to the main residence during her lengthy reign at Lotusland, however she continued to indulge her passion for the gardens til the very end of her life, resorting to auctioning off her jewels to fund her beloved Cycad Garden as late as the 1970′s.

She remained the hands-on “Head Gardener” at Lotusland until her death at the age of 97.

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Oh Dear…

So many husbands,

So many captions…

:)

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For more information on visiting Lotusland please click here

PS. Due to both the fascinating history  of Lotusland and value of many of the specimens, guided tours and appointments are mandatory

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