3 Handy Gadgets Good for Travel or Gifts

You know how you walk into a shop for a card and walk out $200 later? Sometimes you can’t help it. With summer travel season about to begin and Father’s Day coming up, I’ll take handy gadgets and gifts when I find them.

Look at this great charger for your old iPad, your new iPhone, your Kindle, your smartphone, and your Tesla.

 OK not the Tesla, but everything else.

I got four. That’s what ran up the bill, but for $26.95 and fewer wires in your carry-on, not a bad deal. Plus I like supporting local merchants, in this case Paper Source in Santa Barbara, which is fab. You can also find these at the TechCandyCases website for $19.99. And more colors, too.

Multi-function charger. The heart is scribbled on because I left it on His Grace’s dresser as a sercy.

And how great is this amazing Multi-tool Hammer? Ten-in-one tools, and I just like the look of it. Great for Father’s Day gift, a graduate striking out on her own (in or out of the construction business), or any handy, crunchy, camping, sailing, hiking, hunting sort. Wait, where’s the cork screw… 

Multi-tool Wooden Hammer from Kikkerland

$19.95 from Paper Source in Santa Barbara, and a selection online at the maker Kikkerland. Don’t put it in your carry-on, though, as the TSA agent will like it as much as you do and take it.

Multi-tool wooden hammer in all its multi-glory

As exciting as travel can be, it is has its tedium. Here is a surefire way to relieve ennui, amuse a child, or terrify a fractious fellow passenger into taking his fat elbow off of your armrest.

Rubber octopus tentacle, hours of entertainment for all ages

It is as you suspected, a Finger Tentacle, and a bargain at $2.95. I splurged for eight, which was all they had. But I bet they could order more. Definitely put in your carry-on. Take that, TSA. And bless Pat you can get a set of 10 on Amazon for $21.95. 

One on each finger virtually guarantees you a part in the re-make of ”20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

Perfect for someone who has everything, including boring, regular ol’ fingers.

Product mentions and endorsements on FrancesSchultz.com are for the love and not compensated in any way.

Posted in Adventure & Travel, Blog, Little Life Enhancers | 12 comments

A Birthday, a Baptism, and Easy Changes to One Centerpiece for Two Occasions

A Birthday, a Baptism, and Easy Changes to One Centerpiece for Two Occasions

What to do when you have back-to-back parties (what were you thinking?), for the same people, and don't have the time or budget for for a complete makeover? Photo by Bill Hurbaugh, aka Partner On that fateful I mean fun occasion when family weekends or celebrations call for more than one festive scenario, the challenge is to create different looks without wishing you would be kidnapped by aliens because that at least would be manageable.  For us at Rancho la Zaca, a granddaughter's baptism happened to coincide with her grandfather's--that would be His Grace's--birthday, and we wanted to fete both, but with minimal fuss. So here's what we did: Rather than arranging two separate sets of flowers, I picked a simple floral foundation of green and white and two colors of flowers. I used coral roses for Saturday and swapped them out for pink frilly  tulips on Sunday. It completely changed the look and tone of the design, and worked like a charm. If anyone said, yo, Frances, way to re-cycle the flowers, I did not hear it.  The birthday party was a glorified picnic preceded by a highly competitive and completely chaotic round of sunset croquet. Dress in whites, please. It was one of those ideas perhaps better in theory than in execution, but what the hay, fun and different. Our elegant dress was only slightly compromised by the chilly weather. If only the same had been true for dinner... Teams take the field... formulate strategy... look good... move in for the kill... and this is Preacher (!)... and gloat in victory. Dinner was to be served on the porch that runs alongside the so-called croquet pitch, and indeed it would have been, except peoples' teeth were chattering and their lips turning blue--though I appreciated the color coordination with the tablecloth. Forget it, I said, mid-shiver, we're going inside and just sit anywhere. The whole night was a bit of an improv, but that makes it fun--and less tablecloths to wash. Hydrangeas, hellebores, pittosporum, and coral roses make up the centerpieces for Saturday night's "picnic," with blue and white checked tablecloths and simple white china and linens. For Sunday lunch following the baptism, with essentially the same group of family and friends, we moved venues, recycled centerpieces, changed linens and flatware, and boom.   Set for Sunday lunch in the olives. Centerpieces of white with pale pink frilly tulips are a nod to the baby girl without being fussy or prissy, which she isn't. Because there were a few more guests and a longer table, I augmented with tulips and greens in smaller vases and interspersed them with the larger arrangements. The absence of candles at a lunch leaves a bit more space, and I like for the table to look full, if not busy. Don't you love a baptism? If you are Christian, I mean. All of our family is not Chirstian, btw; how we roll. Chef Stephanie Valentine, right, makes faces with Piper and her mom Alexis It was a disappointment not to be in our pretty church, St. Mark's in the Valley in Los Olivos, but she is having a little work done. So here we are in Stacy Hall, home to many a pancake supper and coffee hour, as well as synagogue on Friday nights. We've got our bases covered, yessir. We even have a Facebook page.  Precious Piper wore the same long white christening dress worn by two of my nieces (thank you Sister Duvall and Oxy-Clean). Piper, parents, and big sister await their moment. The thing about babies in long dresses is that the dresses bunch up, and before you know it the whole congregation knows what kind of bloomers they're wearing. This can require mid-service wardrobe adjustments. Hallelujah. ... Also in a long white dress is the Rev. Randall Day, aka Preacher, aka Croquet Demon, presiding. My mama used to say that if a baby cries when she's baptized, it lets the devil out. This baby laughed and cooed and would have dipped her hand in the font if she could have reached it. Maybe to splash it back on Preacher. I do not know where the devil is in this particular situation.  I left a little early to race back over the mountain to presto-change-o. For the buffet centerpiece, I removed the previous night's roses and left it green and white. Pretty and simple. We made a little nest for the the ceramic love birds, a gift from Preacher and Partner a few years ago. Aww. The ceramic birds were a gift from Preacher and Partner, and perfect for the buffet table. An ever optimistic Ike, ward of Preacher and Partner, lurks beneath the buffet table. Because he never knows what might fall off'a there.  Photo brazenly lifted from Ike's Facebook page. What, your dog doesn't have a Facebook page? The menu was simple, designed for grazing and to be served at room temp. Ham biscuits from Callie's Biscuits (you can order online), the best quiche I've ever had (because it's made with cream, recipe to come), cold meats and cheeses, smoked salmon, Alex Hitz's broccoli slaw (recipe here), and miniature eclairs for dessert. I wore a girly-pink dress, but what got the most compliments was my new linen apron (before I took it off) handiwork of the wonderful Valerie Rice of Eat, Drink, Garden. (Follow her! She is fab!)  Linen apron by Valerie Rice. Shows off my figure, no? Have you discovered Fabric.com? It's brilliant--a great and inexpensive source of all kinds of fabrics. I order a few yards, roll it down the table, cut it, and done: Tablecloth! This was a broad damask stripe. You can see I did not bother to finish the edges. I'll get to it one day. Maybe. But with so much else going on, people usually don't notice these things. Luncheon table in the olives at Rancho la Zaca But I cannot leave you without a picture of funny baby shoes. It just wouldn't seem right. Piper in funny baby shoes, from ABC Carpet & Home

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Posted in Blog, Decoration & Design, Entertaining, Flowers & Gardens | 16 comments

Coming Soon… a Tale of Two Centerpieces

What to do when you have back-to-back parties (what were you thinking?!) and don't have the time or budget for two sets of table decorations? Answers coming up... Luncheon table in the olive grove

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Posted in Blog, Decoration & Design, Entertaining, Flowers & Gardens | Leave a comment

Dear Mom, Thank you for not selling me to the gypsies.

Dear Mom, Thank you for not selling me to the gypsies.

I don't know why she didn't. I really don't. Maybe she thought I would like being with the gypsies, which I totally would have. Or that the gypsies she sold me to might have sold me to other gypsies, which would have been totally understandable.  Greeting card from Paper Source Or maybe just one tiny bit of her mother's intuition knew we might grow to be best friends, which we did. She died ten years ago, and I feel lucky for her every day--and miss her every day. Happy Mother's Day and blessings to all you wonderful mamas out there. Mama and my sister Duvall, ca. 1996

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Posted in Blog, Humor, Insight & Inspiration, Little Life Enhancers, Social Graces | 25 comments

Tablesettings From New York’s Prettiest Party

Just a lovely way to start your day, or end it... The Horticultural Society of New York held its annual dinner-dance this past week, a beautiful night for a great cause. ...  Cherry blossoms are always wonderful, aren't they? ...  Here's a close-up of Jodi Zimmerman's table... The little pots of wheat grass and ribbon-wrapped container are a nice touch. ... This viburnum extravaganza had individual topiaries at each place as favors. I love favors and always think about doing them. That's usually about as far as I get. ...  It's all about the drama. If you want to talk to your cross-table companions, you have to do a bit of maneuvering. Not a bad thing. ...  The Hort's own ever creative George Pisegna's combination of burgundy, chartreuse, and white was a winner. By the Hort's own Goerge Pisegna  I love bird cages and butterflies, even though the lighting was bad here. This could have been a hat at the Kentucky Derby. Did you watch it? It was great.  ... Loved these ribbon streamers, especially on the chair backs.  Steal this idea. ... This sprawling, vine-y arrangement is romantic, extravagant, and yet simple in its use of plant material. It's all about go big or go home. ... Speaking of going... have a beautiful day. It's His Grace's birthday AND our granddaughter's baptism day. We have 30 for lunch, yikes, and I'm still in my bathrobe. Our centerpieces will be a little simpler than these. You can see them on Instagram. Click on title at top of post to go to full post and to comment.

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Posted in Blog, Decoration & Design, Entertaining, Flowers & Gardens | 8 comments