Tag Archives: family

A Different Time

I’m thrilled to be traveling to France and Spain in a couple of weeks.  After a long hard school year I can’t wait to relax in the country side and take in the sights, smells, and flavors of these beautiful places.  One of my destinations will be the town of Lourmarin in the Vaucluse area of Provence, where my grandmother lived the last twenty years of her life.  I’ve been thinking of her a lot recently, and when I saw this menu on the online site of San Francisco’s Paris Hotel Boutique I was especially struck by her memory.  My grandmother and I were very close–she would spend hours telling me the stories of her life, occasionally with a prop or two.  I hadn’t thought of it for years, but one of her favorite souvenirs was a menu card from one of her trans-Atlantic journeys on the Queen Elizabeth ocean liner when her grandmother took her to Europe as a young woman to get fine clothes in Paris and go to finishing school.

queenelizabeth

Nothing will match my beloved grandmother’s Queen Elizabeth menu card, but this one is pretty wonderful too:

monte

Decorative French menu from the L’Hermitage Hotel, Monte Carlo, 1909

Click here to visit Paris Boutique Hotel.

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Great Grandmother’s (Maternal Side) Mayonnaise Recipe

As taught to my mother in the 50’s by Eddie, an extraordinary woman who worked for the family and who had learned the recipe from Great Grandmother…and I quote my mother [my input in brackets]:

Now you must understand that when Eddie was teaching me to cook, or rather I should say I was hanging around the kitchen while she cooked,
hoping I might fathom the mysteries of all that delicious food she served us;  when I asked her, after she had put something in the oven, “When will it be done?” her reply was invariably  “When its cooked.” [do you see why it took me so long to learn how to write short sentences being that I was raised by a Memphisonian mother?]

So I will give you the amounts and it may take your own intuition to get the mayonaise to the point where Eddie would exclaim the concoction to be “Just right.” [this is the case with most family recipes, including recipes from the paternal Yankee side]

1 egg yolk
1 lemon
1 dollop of mustard [you must intuit “dollop”]
salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic pressed  (if desired)
1 bottle of olive oil [you must intuit how big this bottle is–but here I will give you a hint–perhaps 12, but that is only derived from my own intuition, and therefore is not exact]
1 teaspoon paprika
lots of elbow grease [there are probably electric tools that can take the place of this, but it won’t taste as good and won’t be as much fun or memorable]

First you take a nice size mixing bowl and one small bowl.

Crack the egg on the lip of the small bowl and separate the white from the yolk by tossing the yolk from one half of the egg shell to the
other and letting the white fall into the small bowl.  Either keep the white for another more virtuous day or discard.

Put only the yolk in the large mixing bowl.

Squeeze the lemon and add only the juice (no seeds) to the egg yolk.

Add the mustard to the egg and lemon juice.  I use Dijon,  post-life in France but Eddie used Colman’s powdered mustard [since 1814, but new and improved website with audio] after adding water as directed.

Salt and pepper  and paprika to taste.

Post life in France [the first time this phrase was written I edited it; after having read it twice I left it in],  I started adding the garlic at this point.

Take a fork or a wire whisk and make an emulsion of the above ingredients.

Take a deep breath.  This is the crucial step.

Add the olive oil in a steady,  slow stream;  all the while whisking all the ingredients to form a stronger emulsion. This will happen
gradually.  Much elbow grease will be expended.  You might notice a little bit of olive oil off to the side of your bowl;  hurry there and
bind it with the emulsion.  You want to stop adding the oil when the mixture reaches saturation.  It will not be the consistency of a store-bought mayonaise,  but you do want it to come to a peak when you lift the whisk.

If you go  too far and add too much oil the mixture will separate and you will have  a nice dressing but no mayonaise.  To quote Elizabeth David “Start again,  this time more circumspectly.

Sprinkle the mayonaise with paprika.

You may serve it directly or cover and chill for later but not terribly much later!

“Mmmm just right”

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Valentine’s Day

When I a little girl I LOVED Valentine’s Day; not because I dreamt of a knight-in-shining-armor or had a hope chest (neither of these are true), but because it is a totally mundane Hallmark holiday that my gifted and generous mother made magical by infusing it with the appropriate amount of paganism and Victorian tradition.  

Valentine’s Day morning meant a special breakfast.  It usually consisted of Swedish pancakes (my mother didn’t make any other kind) with powdered sugar and lingonberry jam.  There was always beautiful fresh fruit too, often strawberries and whipped cream (by hand, not something that comes out of a nozzle).  The table was specially set and varied from year to year.  Lace table cloths would have been removed from linen drawers the night before and ironed.  White and gold china was used.  Perhaps there was red silk underneath the antique lace one year.  Each place setting had a handmade Valentine (sometimes more than one if we had spent the preceding week crafting together).  And this was all usually around six AM, before we had to put on our uniforms (with a red sweater, or maybe a pink bow in my hair to denote the holiday) and go to school. 

With all the hullabaloo around Valentine’s day from the couples (he better get the right reservation!) and singles (damn all the coupled people!) I miss the good old days of sugary breakfasts and familial love.  It was romantic, just not in a sexy way.  To celebrate Valentine’s Day here are some gorgeous images of antique and vintage Valentines and some tips for making your own sugary breakfast. Enjoy!

valentine1

While I wasn’t one for knight-in-shining-armor I did have a thing for a nice, big pink sash.  Love it! Source

valentine2The sailboat! The garlands of forget-me-nots!  Source

valentine3

detail:

valentine31

Unbelievable.  So gorgeous.  Really worth clicking on the link to see more details.  The ribbon alone! Source

valentine4

The gesturing hand is so Victorian. And the dove with the envelope! The purple and white lilacs really put me over the top on this one.  Source

The Swedish pancake mix that was always on hand in our pantry:

swedish-pancake-mix

Lunds and lingonberry jam can be found at specialty grocers or online here.

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NYC Part 1

After throwing on some curls and pearls we headed over the Brooklyn Bridge down to the Financial district to the Forever Young Party.  It was the perfect New York night.  Not too cold and the Empire State was in my favorite decor: all white lights.  So classic.  The city got dressed for the Jans that night.  

night_empire_state

We stopped at a Citibank on Broadway for some cash and in perfect NYC style I got hit on by a bum.  Men in New York.  Honestly.  Even the bums think they can get the hot chick.  

When we arrived at China Chalet it wasn’t yet 10.  My people had already been in place, decorating and setting up for the fete.  It was a beautiful reunion.  We all had time to hang out and get drinks in the relative quiet before the storm.  I got to meet the sassy and sexy proprietess of Beach House, the fabulous Miss Vicky B.  She soothes to insane levels and WAS FUCKING WEARING SADDLE SHOES.  HELLO!  It was love at first sight.

Things got rolling quickly though.  Before I knew it guests were pouring in.  I saw my Marlborough girls, Soph, Ash, Remy, Camille, Michelle, Lauren, Christina.  Damn.  They were looking great.  I swear the most grounded people I know in NYC are those who transplanted there from LA. 

One of the Jan’s mom was there, and the other Jan’s bro was on site.  It was a total family affair.  There was the fabulous Gelardi clan in all its glory, and looking sharp.  

There was a photo booth, photographers, and props.  Here are our hosts and the honorees of the evening; on the left, Jan Philippe and P, on the right Jan Edward in the glasses and tie:

forever-young-alt5

Double

There were so many people there I saw people I haven’t seen in three, four, five years.  Wade, Justin, Ken, Noah, Kate.  Damn.  Amazing that I’ve gotten to the age where I can say that I saw people I haven’t seen in five years.  

The space was huge.  There was a huge bar/lounge area, a dining room with banquettes, a long hallway with mini booths along the side, and a big dance floor in the back with a second bar.

My best man Devotion was there with Kiss Me I’m Polish and I set up fort at one end of the main bar in the front.  We laughed and drank beers that we had to order four and five at a time since the bartenders were so damn old and slow, doublefisting at a double birthday party was the only way to go.

forever-young-party-13Double

bestman

Trouble

The music was the best I’ve ever heard in NYC–honestly.   Courtesy of DJs Tim Sweeney (DFA) & Scott Anderson.  I didn’t dance as much as I usually would because I was too busy screaming and yelling catching up in the front bar but I did hit it for a little and all I remember was dancing to Tony Toni Tone “Let’s Get Down” and never loving anything more.  

There were so many beautiful people there.  It was as if the world was glittery and shining that night and someone had sprinkled fairy dust over the whole evening. There was even a second girl wearing saddle shoes–Red ones!!!  The only thing that brought anyone back (or further from) Earth was the ghostly image of Michael Stipe(!) waiting outside the double glass doors for a late entrance when the club was at capacity.  

I was running around telling everyone how good they looked.  Handing out compliments like it was my job.  Sorry Bay, NYC makes you look ugly!  You need to sharpen up and learn how to dress!  People in NYC are tight!  Even the uglies are looking good over there. 

We closed the place down around 4 or so and a big group of us headed down Wall Street to a deli to grab a bite.  We got egg and cheese sandwiches and slices and nothing ever tasted so good.  A good, generic NYC deli.  Dime a dozen in the city, impossible to get anywhere else.  The big cases of prepared food, neon lights, guys in blue and white aprons, and unbelievably flawless slices and bagels.  [You don’t understand the issue I had Tuesday morning in Rockridge when I was craving a bagel.  OY VE!  Problem.  The craving was so intense.  My husband went and got me Noah’s.  I protested, but ultimately gave in.  He didn’t want to drive all the way to Manhattan Bagels on 4th Street, which I haven’t tried but is supposed to be great.  When he brought it to me and asked me how it was I didn’t even have the heart to tell him how incredibly bland that thing was.]

We moved the after hours party to Brooklyn where I ended my night–just tearing myself away knowing I really didn’t want to see sunrise all that much–dancing to Biggie rap “Juicy.”  Very symbolic as I had left the West Coast years before, abandoned the riotous streets of L.A. and its segregation and its fearless leader Pac for the in-your-face East Coast where I converted wholeheartedly to Biggie:

I live out there, so don’t go there, but that don’t mean a — can’t rest in the West, see some nice breasts in the West, smoke some nice cess in the West, y’all — is a mess thinking I’m gon stop givin LA props, all I got is beef with those who violate me, I shall annihilate thee…

pacbiggie1

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Ride the Rimpletide

I am loathe to offer description here.  If you would like to read some good writing, please allow me to draw your attention to the following links.

“The Moire Effect”

moire

“Personal ontology of rimple?!?!?

rimple

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It Soothes!

This is very exciting.  Our good friends Chad and Ed had their apartment featured on Apartment Therapy NYC.  We LOVE this apartment.  It soothes!

Chad did a great job in the interview, but I really feel like I could’ve given my own interview of this apartment, since I’ve soothed in it so much.  (The bed, the couch, the Beast: their chi-mix).

The kitchen counter: geraniums really soothe!  Especially in kitchens I think…

This collage really soothes, as does the Pac Man game.  You can see Beast at the bottom of the frame.  Beast soothes.  Most of the time.

The art above the couch does soothe, as do those pillows from Tail of the Yak Berkeley.  Hm!

I’m consistently impressed by this closet and the organization.  I’m also consistently impressed when looking at this closet and its organization at Chad’s ability to reform a man.  Take notes ladies and gentlemen.

A couple things weren’t mentioned in the interview with Chad: Chad and Ed’s super obsession with organic cotton textiles, their related obsession with high-end luxury bedding sample sales, and Bill’s art above the bed.  It soothes.  Oh–and Ed’s super old Barbar!  Barbar soothes!

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Solid Rock Baptist Church Turns 65 Years Old

I got up early, ironed my suit, picked up Mrs. B’s wrist corsage I ordered for her from Bloomies, picked up some sheer “buff” hose at Walgreens, and set my hair.

I attended the Solid Rock Baptist Church 65th Anniversary brunch at a banquet hall near the Oakland Airport with Mrs. B.  It was an unprecedented experience for me, in every way.  I am pretty sure it is the first time that I have been the racial minority in a room of people.  Out of approximately 80 attendees, I was one of 3 whites.  In addition to the pastor of Solid Rock, there were at least five other Baptist preachers in attendance who were visiting to express their support for Solid Rock.  Many of Mrs. B’s amazing family were in attendance including her two surviving children, and several grandchildren.  None of her great-grandchildren or great-great-grandchildren were able to come, perhaps a combination of the high price of tickets and distance.  I know Mrs. B’s children fairly well, since they are often at her house, but I’d never met her grandchildren.  They were all so kind to me, as was every single person there.  Mrs. B’s grandchildren, who are all significantly my senior, all greeted me with open arms–literally–thanking me for looking out for their grandmother.  They insisted on hugging me at first sight.  The members of the congregation were equally as welcoming and went out of their way to make me feel comfortable.  

The program was amazing and included a lot of preaching.  The pastors were all phenomenal.  I absolutely loved it.  As much as it was something I’d never experienced before, I felt oddly at home, and as if these people’s faith were as much theirs as mine.  We gave thanks, we prayed, and we said Amen, a lot.  They did something I loved called “Words of Encouragement.”  These presentations were made by two different visiting pastors who gave encouragement to the church as a whole, and Solid Rock’s pastor, respectively.  What they each said was different, but I just loved the concept of Encouragement.  One of the pastors told us: “we ALL need encouragement.”  Nothing could be more true.

The praise team sang, and there was even a band.  The keynote speaker was Pastor John Waiters from Mount Olive Baptist Church in Palo Alto.  His words were powerful, but what was even deeper was just looking into his burning eyes as he spoke to all of us, each and every one of us, and demanded that we recognize Jesus as our Savior.

Mrs. B was honored by the church.  She has served Solid Rock for sixty-four of its sixty-five years.  She was the choir director for fifty of those years.  And she looks just as good as she did almost the whole time.  Two other nonagenarians were honored for their service along with her.  According to the pastor, each had their individual quirks that distinguished them: one of the sisters was known for saying not to cross her, lest she…well you know, the other sister was the fashion queen, best dressed at church, and Mrs. B has always been known to be the first in church every Sunday all these sixty-four years, and strutting up the steps quick with a switch in her hips.  When Mrs. B heard the pastor say so she stood up and shook it.  It was beautiful.

By the end of the marathon four hour event I felt like I was friends with everyone in the room.  Solid Rock’s pastor, Michael Wright, told me I was welcome anytime at his church.  All the Sisters on the anniversary committee hugged me and told me to come back soon.

I told them all it was a privilege and honor to be there, and that I appreciated their invitation.

The afternoon ended with a hundred hugs, lots of pictures, and lots of happiness.  

I took Mrs. B to get the Colonel on the way home so she wouldn’t have to cook for herself, as she does most nights, in spite of her ninety-three years.   It was a beautiful day.

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