Friday, February 28, 2014

week one

Denim Polka Dot Dress... Talbots  $129.00
Floral Print Shoes... Boden USA $38.00
Navy Blue Belt... Oasap  $9.00
Coach Handbag... Dillards  $298.00
Denim Jacket... Anywhere
Corsage... Check Boutiques in your area

It's looking like Spring with these floral printed shoes...

                                                                        PERFECT FOR GRANDDAUGHTERS  $21.00


Thursday, February 27, 2014


 Holocaust survivor, concert pianist and remarkable woman

Alice and her twin Marina were born in Prague in 1903. Her father was a prosperous businessman. Her mother, a well educated woman, moved in the city’s shimmering artistic circles often playing host to Europe's prominent writers, philosophers and musicians. Alice and her siblings were exposed to the "great talents" at a very young age.

Irma, her older sister, taught little Alice to play the piano when she was only five.  At 16 she began serious study at the Prague German Conservatory of Music and by her late teens she was wowing audiences with her concerts.

She married Leopold Sommer in 1931 and together they had a son they called Raphael. Alice filled his life with music and he would later become a renowned cellist.

Aware that the Nazis were headed in their direction most of their family and friends fled to Palestine. Alice and her husband stayed behind to care for her invalid mother.  She said... 

"The lowest point in my life was escorting my mother to the deportation center in Prague." 

It was at this sad time that she began to work on Chopin's Etudes.. a set of 27 solo pieces that are some of the most technically demanding and emotionally impassioned works in piano repertory. This music would quite literally save her life and the life of her son.

Then in 1943 the Nazi's came for her family. The three of them were sent to Terezin, a concentration camp that was promoted by the Nazis as a model institution.  Many of the prisoners there were Czechoslovakia's foremost figures in the performing arts.

“It was propaganda,” she later remarked.

Nonetheless the sustaining power of music was real. She performed in more than 100 concerts for the prisoners and the guards. In her words...

"We had to play because the Red Cross came three times a year. The Germans wanted to show its representatives that the situation of the Jews in Theresienstadt was good. Whenever I knew that I had a concert, I was happy. Music is magic. We performed in the council hall before an audience of 150 old, hopeless, sick and hungry people. They lived for the music. It was like food to them. If they hadn’t come to hear us, they would have died long before, as we would have."

Alice's husband was sent to Auschwitz and died from typhus a short time later.  When a guard approached her and told her not to worry, that because she played so beautifully she and her son would never be taken away, she realized that her music, quite literally, was going to save their lives.

After the war, Alice and Raphael emigrated to Israel to reunite with family. She taught for 40 years at the Jerusalem Academy of Music until her final move to London.  Her son Raphael, an
accomplished cellist died suddenly at the age of 64 from an aneurysm. Once again music sustained her. Friends recall that they knew she was going to be fine when she began to practice again.

For Alice, music was her passion, her life, her love. But it is only a piece of what has been a remarkable life.  She refuses to HATE anyone... only LOVE. She even goes so far as to express gratitude for the experiences she had in the camps... it shaped her life.

One of the most memorable things about Alice is her smile and her laughter. She lifts everyone around her. The people in her London neighborhood and specifically her apt building count themselves lucky that they get to listen to her beautiful music everyday.

 "They know when it is 10:00 AM because that's when I begin to practice."

Throughout her years in Theresienstadt, the loss of her mother and husband, the hunger, the cold and the death... Alice Herz Sommer was sustained by a Polish man who had died long before. His name was Frederic Chopin.  

Known as the oldest Holocaust surviver, Alice passed away peacefully last Sunday at 110 years of age. She leaves behind an extraordinary legacy of talent, passion, love, forgiveness and... laughter. A truly remarkable woman.

This is the trailer from the documentary "The Lady in Number 6"          
follow this link to rent the entire movie

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


What could be more exciting that the birth of your FIRST grandchild?  Obviously getting two, a boy and a girl! Aren't these babies sweet...  

Grandma made darling "First Christmas" cards for them.

And then there was... THE WEDDING

The Bridal Shower...
Love the black and white with the gorgeous pop of pink! There's an old saying "the devils in the details" and this one's got it covered. 

And those cookies... what darling favors!

From Daddy's little girl to beautiful bride!

No tiny detail was overlooked and when the publishers from "THE KNOT" saw the pictures they came running.
Congratulations Becky on a wonderful year!

follow this link to see "The Knot" online...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Stopping By the Woods on A Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost
(one of my favorite poems)

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Those of you who live in warm climates might not be able to relate, but here in the Rocky Mountains it gets COLD... really, really cold. I have suffered through a lot of winters. My kids always had layers of down and boots and scarves and mittens because they had to go to school.  Not me... I'm a "home-body."  I stayed indoors by the fire, borrowed someone's parka to dash to the mailbox and counted the days until Spring. Now that I'm teaching again part of my job is  to "man the crosswalk" after school. I knew it was time to get the gear!  To my surprise I can now stand in subzero weather and be happy as a little clam on the beach. 


The essentials ...

UGGS - They will keep your feet warm... end of story. They are expensive but you can't put a price on warm toes and they last forever!

HAT & GLOVES - I love mittens but for the really cold times I wear gore-tex-thinsulate gloves... bought them at Cosco for $10.00

The Olie Shearling Hat $89.95
Here is a link to hats that will actually keep your head warm and it comes in L and XL for those of us with big heads. 

SILK THERMALS -They are, ounce for ounce warmer than wool, nice and flexible, and decidedly warmer than cotton thermals.

THE SCARFI am honestly surprised at how much warmer I am with a scarf around my neck.  I wouldn't be caught without one. The bigger and chunkier the better.

THE COAT - I have been wearing Eddie Bauer down for years but when faced with spending 30 minutes in negative 10 degree weather I googled "warmest coat on the planet."  This is what popped up...

CANADA GOOSE MYSTIQUE. I have never read a bad review so I took the plunge only to find out it runs small and it was too tight across my shoulders. I had to send it back for a bigger size. The best place to buy this coat is on Amazon... you will save the tax and the shipping and that's a lot of money. This price tag is not for the faint of heart ($750.00)  Its worth it to be warm.


With my creature comforts taken care of I can focus on the beauty of WINTER. It can hold its own against any season. I love being out in it. Maybe I should take up skiing... or just go for a walk.


Maybe I've been living under a rock but I have never heard that phrase until last week. There was a woman on twitter who was very upset that someone would say this.  I understand that "mutton" is probably not a very flattering term, but I had a very different reaction...

I laughed so hard I had to pull my car over to the side of the road.  It brought up all kinds of images, some that I have seen first when I complimented a friend on her gorgeous legs and angles and the next thing I know she shows up at work in a low cut mini dress and very tight leggings. Doesn't sound too bad except her torso is at least a size xxl.  Oh my... no one was looking at her ankles.

images from pinterest
We are all different in personality, size and opinions and we can certainly make our own choices. From my perspective... I don't think aging means we have to give up anything, we can just "tweak" it a little.

I remember in college discovering that lingerie came in colors.  I owned a lavender bra... it made me feel so feminine. I still love colored underwear but I can't always find it in the fit I need. I opt for camisoles and slips in every color available. It still makes me feel "jeune femme".

Here is a dress that I absolutely adore.  If I bought it in my size I would be a spectacle.  It is too short and all the shirring around the middle would accentuate my torso... since I'm a "tomato on toothpicks" I wouldn't want that.

But I love the colors and the print. If it was a flowing skirt, paired with a little jacket or sweater I could pull it off.
Same beautiful print, same gorgeous colors just modified for my age and figure.

Even though I could not buy any of these beautiful clothes right off the rack, with a few adjustments I could wear "my version" of them all.  See what YOU think...

Helen Mirren, a class act.  I love the sheen of the silk taffeta and the monochromatic theme. I never think of taffeta in any other color but BLACK but here it is! The pearls match her hair. Can I just say... WOW!   I'm going to keep my eyes open for a taffeta "something"

Love this sweater and the plaid coat. Because I am "trunky" the large plaid would not be flattering on me... but I could swap it for my navy pea coat and then go hunting for a plaid scarf.  I'm going to find this sweater.

What a fun, quirky combinations of plaid and leopard. BUT... if I wore this I WOULD  be "Mutton dressed like Lamb.  I would simply mix the whole thing up...plaid shirt, black V-neck sweater, dark wash jeans and a "to die for" LARGE leopard handbag.

These shoes are beautiful, but not worth the literal pain I would be inflicting on my feet. I own a pair of black heels almost this high and wore them to a Christmas party last year. Dumb decision... I had a son on one side and a daughter-in-law on the other walking me to my car. I can't wear high heels. But there are hundreds of printed shoes in flats and wedges. No need to be boring!

And then... there are all those gorgeous little black dresses that I would look ridiculous in. It doesn't stop me from loving them. I am obviously attracted to black lace. When I happened upon a heavy black lace sheath at Talbots I snapped it up. It falls right to my knee and has a simple grosgrain ribbon around the waist. Its sleeveless (which I can't wear) so I paired it with a 3/4 sleeve length black sweater that has rosettes on the shoulders. It makes me feel very "Coco" 

The truth is... I LOVE BEING A MUTTON. I've got more CENTS/SENSE than when I was twenty and I definitely have more confidence. What is it Kathy Bates says to the girls in Fried Green Tomatoes...

"I'm older and I've got more insurance."

Through the years I have come to believe that the most beautiful women are the ones who smile with their eyes, think carefully before they speak and are generous in their friendships. 


 Found these wonderful paintings by Beth Carver   
THESE LADIES... we should all be so uninhibited.

Beth says that her inspiration for these works was an epiphany she had on the beach in Melbourne, Florida where she was meditating on the impending passing of her father. She noticed these older women playing in the surf like children and it lifted her spirits. From that time forward, her paintings were centered on the simple joys of living.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Meet BECKY...
Freelance artist for Recycled Paper Greetings/American Greetings and owner of
Rebecca & Co. designs

I knew Becky back in the 60's when we were both in high school. She is a California girl, born and raised and I was a transplant that returned to my Utah roots.  Forty-five years later... thanks to FACEBOOK... I began typing in names of old friends. To my surprise most of them were there. Becky was one of them... how fun to get reacquainted after all these years.

Becky's life had a traditional beginning with a hubby and children but somewhere in mid-life her dormant artistic talent brought her to an exciting new career.

Here she is with her college sweetheart, the love of her life and her best friend.  Married for 42 years they were blessed with a son and a daughter and it is very apparent that family comes first with Rebecca!                                 

I didn't know back then that Becky loved to draw, but she did. Both her father and grandfather were artists. She felt eclipsed by friends that she thought had more ability so it wasn't until later in life that her talents emerged. 

About eight years ago a friend of her daughters was working as a wedding planner and asked Becky to design a wedding invitation. She loved it and once she started creating... well, things just began to flow.  In Becky's own words...

"I started scribbling out these stick girls. I have no idea where they came from"

The next thing she knew she had several designs. She submitted them to Recycled Paper Greetings and they immediately took four. A short time later they offered her a royalty contract.

Her designs are a celebration of her love of art and words.  They range from whimsical to sophisticated and can be found not only in the U.S. but around the world. On a trip to Boston, she and her husband were in the Harvard bookstore and there were her cards... what a thrill!

Becky also designs subway style topography art and has an ETSY store for custom work and digital downloads. Even from a distance I can tell that she is having a wonderful time.

 Here is a link to her Etsy site... PAPER BLEU DIGITAL

"An Artist, An Author, A Dreamer"

Becky is an inspiration to us all to follow our dreams and find our passion in life.

Her artistic flair and attention to detail manifests itself in many ways. Thursday I will show you pictures of her daughters wedding. It was so beautifully done that even "THE KNOT" came calling.

Friday, February 21, 2014

 An Oscar de la Renta creation

Please join us on Monday and meet BECKY our next "Woman of a Certain Age" 
Until then, look what I spotted... 
I'm pretty sure those ruffles are horsehair... GORGEOUS!

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

MARY BRECKINRIDGE... a remarkable woman!

Mary Breckinridge was born in Kentucky in 1881 to a southern aristocratic family. The granddaughter of the Vice-President of the United States under President Buchanan and the daughter of a United States Ambassador to Russia, she spent her childhood traveling, being educated by private tutors and playing with the children of Czar Nicholas  (that means she played with Anastasia) 

At the age of 23, she married her soul mate but their happiness was short lived when he suddenly died from a ruptured appendix.

She married a second time. It proved to be a loveless marriage but gave her two children. A son they named Clifford Breckinridge Thompson... "Breckie" for short and a daughter she bore prematurely... little Polly only lived six hours. .

Breckie was bright and good natured with no end to his curiosity. Mary called him her "fair haired wonder. Being raised in a prominent family she watched first hand how those she admired made an impact on the world. She sincerely believed her son, true to his heritage, was destined to do great things.  She was absolutely certain that Breckie would CHANGE THE WORLD and she spent her days preening him for that future.

Then tragedy struck again.  Four year old Breckie suffered a burst appendix and died. Mary was shattered.

(Follow this link to read the book Mary wrote about her son)

Two years later, she did the unthinkable. She filed for divorce and asked the court to restore her maiden name. Having lost all that she loved and determined to never love again, Mary turned to nursing for comfort and strength.

Though raised in luxury, she was keenly aware of the want and neglect of the mountain people who lived in her beloved Kentucky. Babies were born with the help of "granny women" who were largely illiterate and had no nursing skills. This area had the highest birthrate as well as the highest infant mortality rate in the country. The pain she felt from the loss of her two children propelled her forward. She would do something to help.

At the age of 43, she left her home and sailed for Europe to study midwifery at the British Hospital for Mothers and Babies. Upon her return she rode into the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky with the purpose of saving lives.

Going into that rugged area on horseback was not easy.  There were no roads, directions were given by landmarks..."through the holler, past the big rock and beyond the ridge." Besides the rugged terrain, the woods were filled with mountain lions, rattlesnakes and bear. Mary would not be deterred. Time after time she made the trip, gaining the friendship and finally the trust of the mountain people.
Eventually she recruited other women who were willing to serve. They became known as the Frontier Nursing Service (FNS) Traveling on horseback they pushed beyond the danger and brought medical care to the people of remote Appalachia.

During the forty years of Mary's tenure the FNS registered over 64,000 patients, gave over a quarter million inoculations and delivered 17,053 babies. In all that time there were only 11 maternal deaths.

On her deathbed she said... 

 "The glorious thing about it is... that it has worked!"

Looking back... life is seldom what we expect, there are always surprises. A young Mary was certain her purpose was to raise a son that would make a difference.   But...

   "Breckie" didn't change the world ... MARY did!

Three Mountain Stories 

by Rosemary Wells 

One last story about Aundrea...

What do you do on a Friday night when you don't have any plans?  Well... if "the dad" is a commercial pilot, you grab an empty suitcase and catch the RED-EYE to New York City. More than once Aundrea and her girls did just that. Sleeping on the plane, they arrived early the next morning and, with their budget in mind, set out shopping for knock-off handbags, watches and jewelry. Of course they found something fun to eat... frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity.  By 8:00 pm they were on a plane home.  What a whirlwind... its always a party with Aundrea!

Derby Pie...
A favorite recipe at Aundrea's house. 

Three things are synonymous with the Kentucky Derby...  big hats, mint juleps and a delicious slice of "Derby Pie"  This scrumptious pastry was developed in 1950 by George Kern and his parents as the specialty dessert of the Melrosee Inn, in Prospect, Kentucky. The original recipe used walnuts with chocolate and bourbon but other variations substitute pecans. No one knows the exact recipe, it is highly guarded to this day.


  • 1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon or water 
  • large eggs 
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted 
  • 2 teaspoons cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Preparation
  • Fit piecrust into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp.
  • Sprinkle pecans and chocolate evenly onto bottom of piecrust; set aside.
  • Combine corn syrup and next 3 ingredients in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Whisk together eggs and next 4 ingredients. Gradually whisk about one-fourth hot mixture into egg mixture; add to remaining hot mixture, whisking constantly. Pour filling into prepared piecrust.
  • Bake at 325° for 55 minutes or until set; cool on wire rack.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


It's all about the bride... that's how it should be.  But... if she is lucky enough to have her mother and her grandmother at her wedding all three of them should "sparkle."  

Tricia, from LOOK FABULOUS FOREVER is the "go to" person for looking amazing on a special occasion. Her new YOU TUBE video takes you from prep to final result.  It's brilliant!

 I will re-post this under "MAKE-UP FOR OLDER WOMEN" so you can watch it again and again. For more information go to... 

Tricia Cusden... founder and MD 
 Look Fabulous Forever


In 33 years I had never once spent a night alone. The house was always filled with the noise and demands of a family. Whether cooking pans of lasagna and dozens of bread sticks or chauffeuring pre-teens to endless activities, it was just part of the job. The housework, the homework, the wash, the shopping, it was exhausting... but I loved being the hub of the wheel.

The laughter and activities of my children made me feel young. I was needed... in fact I was vital. What I didn't realize was that I was working myself out of a job.

One by one they departed for education and careers and families of their own. When my last son was the only one left I worried he would be a "lonely only."  As it turned out, watching him navigate his way through his last years of high school was a treasure.  We discussed everything from the literature in his AP English class to science (which I always pretended to understand) to religion. Sitting in a darkened school auditorium, I cried when he appeared singing the opening number from Les Miserables and when all 20 plus of his friends received scholarships to colleges I marveled at the company he kept.

Then it was his turn to go and simultaneously my husband left.

I had lost myself in my family and now I was suddenly single in a great big house that was way too quiet. Without them, I had no idea who I was. A ship without a rudder, the only companionship I had was the pleasure of my own company and I wasn't all that interesting.

Getting a job was one of the things that saved me. I was the school librarian but I also taught math for an hour each day.  I remembered... I love teaching.  I remembered... I love children's literature. And then serendipitously I discovered... I LOVE HISTORY.  Life got better.

Because I had been out of the schools for so many years I had to take a major test called THE PRAXIS. I was expected to know everything that was taught K-6. I studied and took practice tests and that same youngest son and his wife came weekly for three months to help me prepare for science and math. I was a wreck, keeping all those facts straight... it was hard.

Test day arrived. I sat in a college lecture hall with several hundred people and for two hours wrote as fast as I could. When I read the question... "What is the result of the earth tilting on an axis?"  I wanted to stand up and yell... "I know this one... it makes the seasons."  I refrained and filled in my answer.

I left the hall exhausted but exhilarated. I had no idea if I had passed the test but I KNEW I was smarter that I had been three months ago.  It was a light bulb moment. I could still learn, maybe I was even bright. I liked myself a little more.

I did pass the test and thanks to that experience I see myself and my potential in a whole new way. I try to learn something everyday. Just taught PRIME FACTORIZATION for the first time to a class of 5th graders. WOW... it was cool!

I'm NOT boring... who knew?  In fact I really do enjoy the pleasure of my company!