A Glorious Way to Spend the Day…an Ojai Oasis Overflowing With Great Design Ideas

Like a beautiful, sunny melody, I can’t get this image out of my head. It could be the South of France or the North of Italy, but in fact it is the Southern California home of Brooke and Steve Giannetti. Sumptuously featured in the current issue of Veranda, the article was written by moi. What a privilege, and what a bounty of inspiration and ideas.

In the garden at Patin Farm. Photo by Lisa Romerein.

The gorgeous Veranda photos, btw, are by the talented Lisa Romerein.

You may know Brooke through her super fantastic Velvet and Linen blog. If not, go there right now and spend a few minutes of your day on Patina Farm. You will love it, I promise– one great, beautiful idea after another. 

In fact, we are headed there ourselves today, His Grace and I, meeting up with friends who also happen to be bloggers. It’s funny how you end up with people. Not only do we get to see Brooke and Steve, but Slim Paley and The Silver Pen are coming. Seriously, three of my favorite bloggers in the whole, wide, world.  Not to mention their cute husbands. What a treat. #grateful.

Am I the only person who has started to think in hashtags. #what’supwiththat?

I’ll report back first thing. Which might be a few days. Happy Sunday, Martin Luther King Day, Tuesday, Wednesday… ‘Til then…

xo Frances

Posted in Decoration & Design, Entertaining, Flowers & Gardens | 13 comments

If You See Something Good, Say Something Good

If You See Something Good, Say Something Good

We are quick to complain but not so quick to compliment. What's up with that?  I recently ran across a note I'd scratched to myself to compliment flight attendant "Melba,"   on one of the ten million plane flights I took last year. She went out of her way to be lovely and did I don't remember what exactly (because I can't remember what I had for breakfast*). Anyway I found the note, I had Melba's employee number, and I emailed Delta Airlines a few days ago. This note came today and made my day. Simple effort, big payoff, good lesson.  Melba honey, if you see this, thank you again. And thank you, Delta.  Happy Friday, and if you see something good, say something good. *Okay sometimes I remember. Like this morning I had a bagel. But that was only an hour ago, so I don't know if it counts as "remembering." It might just count as "digestion."

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Posted in Adventure & Travel, Humor, Insight & Inspiration | 7 comments

Into the Woods With Designer John Oetgen

Into the Woods With Designer John Oetgen

How about a cozy, contemporary cabin to  snuggle into on a wintry day? Then snuggle in with this month's issue of Veranda. "Cozy" and "contemporary" aren't often best buds, but here is Atlanta designer John Oetgen showing us they indeed can be in his own weekend getaway, MaryJack, named after his parents and nestled in th North Carolina Appalachian enclave of Highlands. And what's more, it's a mountain house with not an antler in sight. Nothing against antlers. Photos are all by Max Kim-Bee.  John Oetgen (we call him O) and his partner John Lineweaver (we call him L), are both longtime friends of our family. My sister and I are lucky to have worked with John O, and occasionally gifted graphic designer John L, through the years. Lord, more years than I want to say. Look at this wall of art. Don't you love how he mixes it all up? Pieces, some by O himself, are hung from ceiling to floor, all higgledy piggledy. And yet not. It's fun. You walk in this house and you know the people who live here are cute and fun.   I am sorry I did not get to write this story for the magazine (I wrote another in the same issue, posting next), but if I had written it, I would not have gotten to say things like "cute and fun" because it sounds goofy in a serious magazine. Whereas here I can sound goofy in a goofy blog. But do read David Keeps's excellent story "Into the Woods" and see more photos in Veranda.  Note how the windows go nearly floor-to-ceiling. It gets dark in them thar woods, so the more light the better. Plus the scale is effective. O designed this place from scratch, which you probably already figured.  The double-height porch is wonderful. The whole place is relaxed, redolent with personal artifacts, keepsakes and family heirlooms, and ready and waitin' for friends, children, dogs, and long, boozy lunches. Like the living room, the porch has a double-height ceiling.  We need another look at that mirror. I nearbout fainted when I saw it. Very Tony Duquette, but salvaged from a French theater. This mirror came out of a French opera house. Double, the Bearded Collie,  is probably not tempted by cabbages and melons, pretty as they are, but I wouldn't trust him with the fried chicken. Just sayin. Oetgen Table Cute and fun. Yessir. John Oetgen, left, Double, and John Lineweaver Photos by Max Kim-Bee.

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Posted in Decoration & Design | 6 comments

Principles are like prayers–noble, but awkward at a party.

Principles are like prayers–noble, but awkward at a party.

Thought after that last post I might better lighten up a little. Praise the peerage, Downton Abbey is back on PBS and the dowager countess and coterie are as quotable as ever, maybe more so. You know by now that I pray and am all for it. It's downright essential. But we have to meet people where they are, literally, figuratively, and otherwise. Parties, or any purely social gathering, are not for preaching--in whatever form it might take. Save it for another time, for like-minded listeners. In the meantime, go gently. Which of course the dowager countess does not always do, but she thinks she does. I will remind myself as I--and we--sail into 2015, that we are all walking our own paths. And just because someone is walking a path different from yours doesn't mean you can't still hold hands.  Amen. P.S. I am nervous that Mr. Bates is going to get in trouble again. Are you? What can we do?

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Posted in Blog, Humor, Insight & Inspiration, Little Life Enhancers, Social Graces | 19 comments

Sedona Sketchbook, Sacred Journey, Freezing My Arse Off, and Why It’s All Good

Sedona Sketchbook, Sacred Journey, Freezing My Arse Off, and Why It’s All Good

Of course the behind did not actually freeze off (alas), but it got mighty cold.  And dark, a little out-there, occasionally woo-woo, at times awesome, and in the end wonderful. Heads up: This is not a typical post, but as the dawn of a New Year is a quiet time after the storm of holiday mayhem, it seems a good time for musing about life and one's place in it. Read on, or just scroll and enjoy the pictures. In my last post (like ten years ago), I told you I went AWOL smack in the middle of the Christmas season, which was insane, and yet not. It was a quest to let myself off the hook, clear my head, and be in nature. Sedona, Arizona, they say, is a good place for that. Fun to sketch there, too. Sedona Sedona, Watercolor by Frances Schultz People come from all over to experience Sedona's energy centers, or vortexes, that are, according to VisitSedona.com, "conducive to spiritual healing, meditation and self-exploration." So I celebrated the winter solstice with an organized group of strangers of all stripes, lead by a local shaman named Joseph Greywolf and a spirit medium named Carissa Schumacher. (Her contact info at bottom of post) We hiked to remote and sacred Native American places... Hiking to the Wind Caves in Sedona. Don't look down... ...we sat, we stargazed, we froze, we steamed in a sweat lodge, we smoked a chanupa. We told our  stories, the good with the bad. We listened to sacred teachings. We marveled at the beauty of the earth and sky. A rainbow one day and a shooting star the next appeared as if right on some kind of cosmic cue. Rainbow as seen from Shaman's Cave Some of us felt closer to the Divine, whatever that means to each of us. Not that it was all kum-ba-yah, mind you, honey. Sacred journeys are not for sissies, or for cars without 4-wheel-drive. Car stuck in Sedona Getting un-stuck is part of the process. I also learned that "aho" is not a garden tool, but a sort of Native American version of "amen." It has a lovely resonance, aho. Funnily enough, the day I was returning home, December 21, a headline in The New York Times declared The New Allure of Sacred Pilgrimages. In it, author Bruce Feiler, who hosts the PBS series Sacred Journeys, states that one in three tourists worldwide today is on a spiritual journey. Astonishing (only slightly more so than the fact that I am possibly, for once, on trend). Sedona drive With organized religion on the decline and religious identity more fluid than ever, Feiler  writes, "The most popular thing you hear in faith circles these days is, 'I'm not religious--I'm spiritual.'" As people are less inclined blindly to inherit their beliefs and more determined to choose for themselves, a pilgrimage can be part of this. "At its core," he writes, "it's a gesture of action." Sedona, Watercolor by Frances Schultz I had no idea what to expect. That the skies would open and angels descend in a Rockettes-style kick line? That I would have a profound  epiphany wherein I finally understand the appeal of the Kardashians? What, exactly? Heaven forbid I didn't have A Goal, but I didn't. Sedona What happened was space. The space in which to allow the what I will call the Divine Whatever to arise; to heal a wound; to soften a hard place; to hear our heart's song; to be and to do what fulfills us; to shine our lights and inspire others to shine as well. The space in which to be present, as Greywolf says, is right here, right now. Sedona Sedona, Watercolor by Frances Schultz Sedona - Cairns at the Amitabha Stupa I need to work on painting rocks. Sedona, Watercolor by Frances Schultz Hell I need to work on a lot of things. In the days I've been back, I discover I have not turned into Mother Theresa, nor grown feathers in my hair, nor remained calm in the presence of awful cab drivers. But I do feel more clear, more calm, more trusting of myself, of my instincts, and of the path I'm on. Perhaps most importantly I'm more conscious of subtle shifts in values and priorities that are simply part of where I am in life. More on that in the months to come. But suffice to say I feel lighter, though trust me I don't weigh less (see paragraph 1). My wish for you in this New Year is that you hear your heart's song and sing it. Namaste. A-ho. To contact Carissa, or to inquire about her next Sedona journey, email or phone her at Cariohlovely@yahoo.com or 310-499-8970.   With a new friend  in the Wind Caves, Sedona, Arizona

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Posted in Adventure & Travel, Humor, Insight & Inspiration, Sketches, Paintings & Projects | 41 comments