Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dear friend

I just heard the news of your loss, and it has filled my heart with sadness. I know how much you loved your son, I heard your love for him swell in your voice every time you mentioned his name - which you did so many times as we shared our stories of being mothers of sons.

I didn't know him well - he just came through the family room sometimes when you entertained "us girls" - the women who worked for you - at your home for parties - holidays, summer barbecues. You always served a special cocktail, so when he encountered us he was always a little bemused at our flush-faced giggling and games - silly old ladies, slightly drunk on cosmos! But he was always unfailingly polite and humorous. He was a graceful and well-mannered guy - he carried things, he moved tables, he helped out and then he always fled the intensity of our pre-menopausal female vibe!

His presence in your home was a reminder for me that boys grow up to be young men. If I happened to get a peek into his room through the open door off the hallway, seeing it just as messy as my own 16-year-old's room, well, it just showed me that sons - no matter how mature - never lose that part of them that will always be a little boy.

I cannot imagine what you are feeling right now. When I learned he was gone, they said he died in his sleep. I know that must have been merciful for him, but how cruel it must be for you. He was your only one, your boy; the two of you had shared so much together. I wish there was something I could say or do to help you carry the pain.

I just learned
this afternoon that my former boss, a woman of great talent, kindness, and leadership, lost her 26 year old son. He died unexpectedly in his sleep Monday night.

Aunt Louie Boyd's piano

Piano showroom ad from the Henry Piano Company, 1909

My great grandfather had five daughters and one son. His youngest daughter was my grandmother, who died before I was born. Another daughter was my Great-Aunt Snow, who was the closest thing to a grandmother I ever knew.

The daughter that made the greatest mark on the world was my Great-Aunt Hattie, who had things named after her that still are around today.

But there was another daughter who was blessed with talent, beauty, and brains, but whose mark on the world has faded. I want to bring back her memory.

My great-grandfather's third daughter Louie Boyd was born in 1881. I don't know why they named her that. But she was always called both names together, "Louie-Boyd."

Here she is with her sister Hattie, in front of their Houston home in 1896 or so, just before the family moved to Dallas.

Louie Boyd was a talented pianist, studying with prominent musicians. By the time she was twenty, she was teaching piano at Kidd-Key Conservatory, a music and fine arts school in Sherman, Texas.

The town of Sherman was known as the "Athens of Texas" because of the many institutions of higher learning located there. It was the home of North Texas Female College, supported by the NorthTexas Methodist Conference, and Austin College, a men's school, supported by the Presbyterian Church. Two other womens' schools were located in Sherman, affiliated with the Baptist Church and the Disciples of Christ church.

North Texas Female College's Music and Fine Arts Conservatory had been founded by Mrs. Lucy Ann Kidd-Key. In 1897 she recruited Finnish composer and pianist Harold von Mickwitz to be director of the music program.

Pencil sketch of Mickwitz from the 1931 yearbook of Austin College, Sherman, TX.

Maestro Mickwitz taught many Texas women, and gained a devoted following among Texas piano teachers, including Aunt Louie Boyd, who, later in life, was an active member of Dallas' Mickwitz Club. The club presented piano concerts honoring the Maestro, and Aunt Louie Boyd helped edit his memoirs. Louie Boyd served on the music faculty at Kidd-Key for eight years.

By 1907 Louie Boyd was back in Dallas, teaching piano students. The Dallas Morning News announced her recitals, where her students played pieces ranging from "The Little Story of a Mouse" and "The Elephant's Dance", to Mozart's "Concerto in D Minor." She had a studio in Dallas' Bush Temple of Music.

Louie Boyd, as a teacher of piano

Another Mickwitz protegee was an Abilene girl named Nettie Tillett. In 1912, she performed in Dallas with other Mickwitz students. She was a talented musician and by 1914 she was on the Music faculty at Simmons College in her home town.

Nettie's father was a State Senator, lawyer, and Judge. Her mother was an interesting person, as documents show she was enrolled as an Art student at Simmons College while in her 40's. In 1918 Nettie's mother died - her death certificate lists the cause as "apoplexy", so it must have been a sudden death and a terrible shock to her family.

Were Nettie and Louie Boyd friends? They were only seven years apart. Or had Louie Boyd, as a member of Mickwitz's faculty, taught Nettie? Did they socialize or meet one another's families?

In any case, in 1920, Nettie's father, the recently widowed Judge Tillett, married my Great-Aunt Louie Boyd. He was twenty years her senior. She was only seven years older than his daughter Nettie, and only four years older than his oldest son, Smith.

Louie Boyd, undated hand-colored photo

She and the Judge lived in Abilene. The family home on Butternut Street was given over to the Judge's son, Junior, but the newlyweds lived just a few doors down, in a newly built brick house.

The Judge was an outspoken man, writing letters to the Dallas newspapers on subjects ranging from politics to religion. The couple hosted dinners at their home to entertain the Judge's distinguished colleagues. Louie Boyd is included in the guest list at a 1927 gala luncheon, where the wealth brought to the community by the oil boom was gaudily celebrated. Table decor included miniature oil derricks, and the color scheme reflected the symbolism of the bounty of oil - with florals of golden jonquils, and a signature cocktail called "Liquid Gold" served in orange shells with be-ribboned straws.

It's easy to wonder about the family dynamic. Did the Judge's children welcome their new stepmother or see her as a gold-digger? As the new, socially active wife of a distinguished man, did Louie Boyd like the glamor and glitz? Did she enjoy entertaining politicians twenty years older than she, or did she feel out of place? As a Dallas girl, did she find Abilene a small-town back-water, or was the Judge's status a step up for her?

Meanwhile, Nettie's career continued, and she became the director of the Fort Worth Conservatory of Music, part of Texas Christian University. Did Louie Boyd envy her young friend, and miss the world of music she'd given up? In 1929, the brilliant young pianist Bomar Cramer came to Abilene to present a concert, and Louie Boyd was interviewed by the local paper. She'd known him as a young student during her years at Kidd-Key, and is quoted praising his talent. You can sense a wistful tinge of envy, as the article quotes recent New York and Chicago rave reviews, while Louie Boyd remembers his young days at Kidd-Key.

In March of 1930, Judge Tillett had a heart attack and died. He was 69 years old, and Louie Boyd was 49.

My mother has always hinted, darkly, that there may be something more sinister to the Judge's passing. As she recalls the tales, the Judge may have been overextended financially, and the crash of the market drove him to despair. One clue that supports this is a classified ad that appeared in the Abilene paper in 1927 where "Mrs. Tillett" seeks a gentlemen boarder for a room with a private entrance in her new brick home - could the couple have been experiencing financial troubles? Did the Judge take matters into his own hands? My mother cites the fact that the news coverage of his death is minimal, which is odd considering his celebrated service to the community during his life.

The 1930 census, taken only a month after the Judge's death, shows Louie Boyd living in her home with two gentlemen roomers and three servants. Her profession is listed as "Piano Teacher." In August, a news article announces her opening of her piano studio.

The Judge's death must have left her strapped financially, if she needed to earn her living again. Or did she return to teaching for the love of music?

It was the beginning of the Depression, and times were tough for everyone. Louie Boyd tried to make a go of it in Abilene, but by 1934 she'd had enough. She returned to Dallas, moved back into the family home on Swiss Avenue with her sisters Hattie and Snow, and announced the opening of her Dallas piano studio.

For the next fifteen years, Louie Boyd taught piano, participated in Dallas musical activities, and taught at the Dallas-based Southwestern Conservatory of Fine Arts.

She and other ladies of the Mickwitz Club were featured in the news for organizing a concert to honor their mentor. Here she is, on the left. Don't they look like the Pick-a-little-Talk-a-little ladies?

Like her husband, she wrote many letters to the editor on subjects ranging from politics to music to culture, and she was outspoken. In 1941 she wrote to take issue with politician Pappy O'Daniel's use of popular music for his campaign rallies.

In 1951, she moved to Houston along with my grandmother. Her health was poor, and she had taken time off from teaching. The next few years would be difficult. At some point during this time, finances forced Louie Boyd to sell her piano. In a 1954 letter, her sister Snow talks about how "heartbreaking" it had been, how it "liked to have killed her."

Although Aunt Louie Boyd sent me birthday cards and Christmas checks, I only met her in person one time. In the 1960s, my family visited her and Aunt Snow in Houston. By this time, Louie Boyd was in her eighties, and in poor health. I remember that her hands were crippled and twisted with arthritis. It must have been particularly hard for her not to be able to use her hands to make music. Only one old and blurry photo remains of her at from that time.

When she died, at the age of 85 in 1966, her sister Snow moved into a residence hotel. She shipped Louie Boyd's belongings up to Illinois, where my Mom let me help unpack them.

Today, I have the Haviland china service and the silver flatware mongrammed with the Tillett "T", that Aunt Louie Boyd and her husband used to entertain guests in their Abilene home. I have her medallion, the rather awful memento to her father's memory.

Announcements for Louie Boyd's students' piano recitals appeared in the Dallas Morning News, starting in 1907 and through1949. That's 42 years of little girls playing "The Happy Farmer" and "Spring Song" - plus the occasional brilliant student who would go on to outshine the teacher. Louie Boyd must have known how to coax simple tunes from clumsy fingers, and to recognize talent when she encountered it.

I studied piano myself as a young girl. And, frankly, I was terrible. I hated practicing, and I was a sullen student, mediocre at best. Now I wonder how much better I could have been if I'd had a teacher like my Aunt Louie Boyd, a woman who lived her life for her music.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April Enchantment - L.A. Style

In "Enchanted April," a film based on a 1922 novel by Elizabeth von Arnim, four lonely English ladies vacation in a seaside Italian villa on impulse, and it changes their lives.
All the radiance of April in Italy lay gathered together at her feet. The sun poured in on her. The sea lay asleep in it, hardly stirring. Across the bay the lovely mountains, exquisitely different in colour, were asleep too in the light; and underneath her window, at the bottom of the flower-starred grass slope from which the wall of the castle rose up, was a great cypress, cutting through the delicate blues and violets and rose-colours of the mountains and the sea like a great black sword. At the top was a wrought-iron door.....
Who wouldn't like to travel, in springtime, to an elegant seaside villa on the Mediterranean, drink in the beautiful colors and breathe the scented blossoms of the countryside? Relax and live graciously with the arts and antiquities of an ancient culture?

During the early years of the 20th century, many Americans discovered the joys of the Mediterranean - Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Sara and Gerald Murphy began the tradition of summering in the South of France, and later in the century, author Gore Vidal owned a villa on the shore of Amalfi. Americans who traveled there and enjoyed it came back to the U.S. and tried to recreate the gracious living they found there. California's Mediterranean climate inspired travelers nostalgic for Europe to recreate their experiences here.

Looming over Pacific Coast Highway, on the shore between Topanga Canyon Boulevard and the terminus of Sunset Boulevard, is a huge golden stone mansion with a red Spanish tile roof. Because beneath it is a driveway and a sign marking the Getty Villa museum, most people think the mansion is part of the Getty property - and so did I, for many years, until I learned otherwise.

View Larger Map

Even Googlemaps designates it as the Getty Villa - but it's not (silly Google - pan north a few blocks to see the real Getty Villa - which dwarfs this house.)

The large stone mansion is a private home, built in 1926 by industrial magnate Leon Kauffman, who owned a company that dealt in wool. The neighborhood, known as Castellemmare, is along the coast of the Pacific Ocean west of Sunset Boulevard, and was developed beginning in1925 by the Frank Meline Company. The developer wanted it to evoke an Italian seaside village, and required that all homes be constructed in the Italian Renaissance style. Mr. Kauffman and his wife Clemence bought six home-plots and decided to build one giant mansion, and named it the Villa de Leon.

The 12,000 square foot house was designed by architect Kenneth MacDonald, designer of the Arcade building in downtown Los Angeles, and the amazing Portal of the Folded Wings Shrine in Burbank. The house includes a marble-faced entry hall with an elegant circular stairway, frescoed ceilings, a ballroom panelled with exotic woods, and even a pipe organ. When it was built, the grounds featured formal gardens with topiary, a Chinese garden, and a funicular that descended from the hill-top house to the beach below.

In addition to the elegant decor, the house also featured modern conveniences, including one of the first central vacuum systems, an elevator, and a seven-car garage beneath the house, with an in-garage car wash system.

1939 Photo of the Villa de Leon from the Los Angeles Public Library

The house took five years to complete. The Kauffmans lived in the house for five years before Clemence died, and Leon lived only another two years. Their grown son chose not to live in the house, which was overseen by caretakers until 1952, when the estate was settled. In the '70s it was owned by a group of investors. It went on the market in 2005, and it's not clear who owns it now. As recently as April of 2009, it has been used as a special event venue.

If you are driving north on Pacific Coast Highway out of Santa Monica, you will come to Porto Marina Way, where a footbridge arches over the highway to the beach just before the elegant building that used to be Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Cafe. If you take a right turn at Porto Marina, you will wind up the steep hillside, climbing horizontally with switchbacks up the face of the bluff. You thread through narrow streets, then the road curves out with a pristine view of the sea, and you come to the gates of the Villa de Leon.

Golden sandstone pillars topped with classical statuary - or, at least, 1926's version of classic statuary - flank ornate wrought iron gates festooned with bougainvillea. Beyond, the columned facade of the mansion looks to the sea. A tiered patio climbs descends the slope.

Beneath the patio, the once-fabled gardens have crumbled, victims of earlier landslides. Beyond the retaining wall, and behind the chain link fences, you can see that renovation work is taking place. The house appears to be empty, though gardeners regularly care for the grounds.

Silhouetted against the misty Santa Monica Mountains of Topanga Canyon, and the late 1960's housing development of Parker Mesa, this elegant statue is the closest you're going to get to Maxfield Parrish paintings in Southern California today.

I've been driving back and forth beneath this pile of sandstone for over twelve years, and this is the first time I ever thought of taking that turn, winding up the narrow streets, and seeing what it really was. I'm starting to do that more and more, these days. And everytime I take that turn-off, follow that curious impulse, question the hidden things behind familiar sights, I find something strange and wonderful. Like a replica Italian villa - who would have thought it? Now that I know it's there, maybe I'll learn something else about it.

Los Angeles seems particularly rich in fascinating stories, which is why I love it. But other places have hidden secrets, too. Explore those near you, wherever you are. You never know what you might find.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Thematic Photographic - Round

This week at Thematic Photographic, Carmi asks us to explore the theme ROUND. What is round? There's nothing more round than a Bubble -

A dancer in a bubble floats on the historic swimming pool at the new Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica, for the opening day ceremonies.

Wouldn't you like to dance on water?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Picadillo taco

Today running between errands and other things, I didn't get lunch. But just a block from one of my appointments, I saw a taco truck parked.

I love taco trucks. This one had a nicely painted sign.

I only had time to grab one taco, quick before heading to my destination. When I asked what kinds of tacos were available, they had all the usual, but also - picadillo.

Picadillo is a savory mixture of ground meat with vegetables and other ingredients. The name picadillo comes from the Spanish word "picar" which means "minced" or "chopped." Depending on the region or culture - Spain, Mexico, Central America or the Philippines - picadillo can include olives, raisins, nuts, capers, and lots of different chopped vegetables.

My picadillo taco had diced carrots, corn, lima beans and green peas mixed with the savory ground beef. It was served with chopped onions and cilantro, and a good dollop of hot red sauce. I sat in my car and enjoyed it, then licked my fingers clean and headed off to my appointment!

That's what I love about L.A.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Miss Hattie's legacy

In 1935, a middle-aged Dallas church worker read a newspaper story about a hardened criminal who'd been sentenced to die in the electric chair in a few days. His mother was visiting him for one last time at the penitentiary.

For the last few years, the papers had been filled with stories about Ray Hamilton and the murderous crimes he committed with Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, before they were gunned down by a posse. The Barrow gang had sprung him from jail in 1934, and since then he'd gone on a crime spree of his own, robbing banks and shooting it out with the law. He'd finally been captured in April of 1935, and was sentenced to die.

Raymond Hamilton

Though there was no doubt the man deserved justice, the church worker was moved to tears by his mother's grief, and the hard realities of the poverty in West Dallas that would lead a man to pursue a life of crime.

She was no stranger to disadvantaged people. She'd just returned to her family home in Dallas after working for several years at the Methodist Mission in San Antonio. There, she'd ministered to unwed mothers, alcoholics, orphaned children.

She got into her car, a Model A Ford, and drove to West Dallas, to the home of Ray Hamilton's mother, Mrs. Steve Davis, and knocked on the door.

According to a Dallas Morning News story written seven years later, Miss Hattie knocked on the door and Mrs. Davis tried to turn her away. She persisted, saying, "My heart aches for you. I want to pray for you." Mrs. Davis opened the door.

During the days that followed, Miss Hattie comforted and ministered to the grief-stricken woman. She prayed with the family during the long night of Ray Hamilton's execution, and helped arrange his funeral.

Miss Hattie stayed in West Dallas and rented a small house across the street, and began to hold church services and Sunday school classes there. She went door to door in the rough neighborhood, encouraging people to attend and send their kids. By the end of the summer, over 100 people were attending services at the Eagle Ford Mission, including Mrs. Henry Barrow, the mother of the deceased bandit Clyde Barrow. She promised to bring with her "a gang of people who never saw the inside of a church."

The mission flourished, and as Miss Hattie raised more funds, a new building was built and the Eagle Ford Mission was renamed Rankin Chapel in her honor.

Miss Hattie continued to minister to people whose lives were hard, and to those who were outcast by mainstream society. It wasn't enough for her to simply bring them to the Lord, she wanted to make sure they had something else in life besides crime. A missed opportunity that led to tragedy strengthened her efforts.

Some of the neighborhood boys promised they'd come to Sunday school if the chapel sponsored a team. Miss Hattie did her best to raise money for equipment, but was unsuccessful. The team remained nothing more than a wish. A few weeks later, she opened her morning newspaper to see that four of the boys had gotten into trouble, brawling and beating an old man to death with a beer bottle. They were charged with murder.

As she wrote in a letter to the editor: "Folks wonder why so many West Dallas boys turn out to be criminals.... they haven't a dog's chance to be anything else. We have no parks, no playgrounds, no handy schools, no lights, no water, no gas. The dogs in Dallas are housed better than our boys and girls."

Miss Hattie was my father's Aunt. His mother was her baby sister. My father's parents had divorced, and my grandmother needed help caring for him. She and her two unmarried sisters still lived in their family home on Swiss Avenue. In 1935 my father would have been eleven years old, just approaching the age when a young boy could get into trouble. Perhaps Aunt Hattie felt that he was in need of spiritual guidance, so she took him with her on her trips to West Dallas - my father used to tell stories about riding in Aunt Hattie's Model A Ford to West Dallas during the time when many police officers were afraid to go there.

Floyd Hamilton was on the loose, running from the law. Floyd was even more notorious than his brother Raymond had been. He had run with the Barrow Gang, but then broke with them, wanting to pull off bigger and grander jobs. He and his partner terrorized the South, killing police officers and robbing banks, stores, and even a Coca-Cola bottling plant near Nashville.

But Aunt Hattie had no fear of Floyd Hamilton. When she began her Sunday School services, she had borrowed his back yard to hold classes. She remained friends with Floyd Hamilton after his arrest in 1938, and corresponded with him while he was incarcerated at Alcatraz.

Photo, Texas filling station 1931, Library of Congress

In 1941, James A. Johnston, warden of Alcatraz prison came to Dallas for a law enforcement conference, and spoke about the issues of Youth and Crime. He said that most of his charges shared a common background of poverty, abuse and lack of education. "We find a record of broken homes, poverty, gangsterism in mere children. There is no escaping the fact that they suffered from lack of training for good citizenship."

According to those who knew him, Clyde Barrow's motivation for the Barrow Gang's murderous crime spree was the brutal treatment he received at the hands of the Texas juvenile justice system, and the tendency of police to blame poor kids from West Dallas for all crimes. His rationale may be self-serving - but by the late 1930's many voices were calling for reform of the Texas prison system.

In 1936, Aunt Hattie knew instinctively what criminologists and sociologists accept as truth today - that lifting young people out of poverty fights crime as effectively as armed posses and electric chairs.

In 1943, Floyd Hamilton and two other men attempted a daring escape from the high security prison. He did not succeed. Surviving the cold waters of the bay, he hid in an onshore cave before sneaking back into the prison, where he was apprehended and returned to his cell. Aunt Hattie continued to write him.

In 1951, another warden from Alcatraz, E.B. Swope, came to Dallas. The Dallas Morning News reported that he visited Aunt Hattie, crediting her with Floyd Hamilton's rehabilitation. "Your counsel and spiritual advice have changed the man immeasurably."

Floyd Hamilton was later released, and lived a quiet life until his death in 1986.

The Wesley Rankin Community Center still serves West Dallas today. The city of Dallas' Hattie Rankin Moore Park in West Dallas provides a recreation center and swimming pool for local kids.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A beautiful day at the beach

Today was the grand opening of the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica, and it was a perfect day for it. This five-acre public beach facility was created on the property that formerly belonged to actress Marion Davies.

The actress's magnificent mansion was demolished in the 1950's, but the historic guest house, designed by architect Julia Morgan, survived and has been restored to its former glory.

Also restored is the estate's swimming pool, including the decorative tile border that appeared in my "Sneak Preview" post earlier this week.

The new pool house's columns echo the columns of the magnificent 118-room main house that once stood here. You can see photos and read about the original mansion if you click Here, Here, and Here.

The new facility is now open to the public. It includes gardens, play areas, beach volleyball courts, public art, a beachside cafe and event spaces available for rental. Classes and activities will be held in the event rooms, too. Docent-led tours of the historic guest house will be scheduled throughout the season, and the guest house rooms will be available to rent for special events and receptions.

Today the dedication celebration included a "First Splash" performance in the pool by dancers from Cirque de Soleil's "O," synchronized swimming, and dancers who floated on the water in giant bubbles.

Poetry readings and ballroom dancing took place in the event rooms, and the guest house was open for touring.

The entrance from the beach path was marked by a giant sandcastle.

Children enjoyed playing in the splash pad.

Strange and wonderful creatures walked through the crowd on stilts.

The weather was beautiful, and so many people came out to enjoy it. Here's wishing the city of Santa Monica great success with this great new facility.

For an earlier preview of the historic guest house, click Here.

Pink Saturday - a pretty table

Pink Saturday - Beverly, at the blog "How Sweet the Sound" hosts Pink Saturday. Let the color pink inspire you!

These days it's just the two of us, with our son at college, and during the week we're so busy we just grab a meal however we can - some take-out, or leftovers, or a can of soup heated up, eaten in front of the TV.

But when it's spring, it's nice to take some time on the weekend to have a nice meal and a pretty table.

When we cleared out Mom's house, we weren't just clearing out stuff from our own immediate family. As Dad's relatives passed away, their belongings were delivered to my parents, just like they had been handed off to them from people who went before. We've decided to sell most of it, but some things are too precious to let go of, like my great-aunt's antique china and glass.

I had a professional shipper pack and send things to me, and it finally arrived. I took the weekend to unpack it, which gave me the chance to get some padded cases to store it in.

The experience of unpacking boxes of carefully wrapped treasures brought back memories, because some of this stuff was shipped to us when I was nine years old. I remember unpacking it with my Mom in our dining room, from tall barrels sent up from Texas. Mom trusted me to help, even though it was delicate stuff, and old.

What I decided to keep and ship to myself was a set of Limoges china, made by Theodore Haviland. The pattern is "Wild Rose" and depicts sprays of single pale-pink roses, like the species roses that grow wild here in the Santa Monica Mountains. There are ten settings each of dinner plates, salad plates, teacups and saucers, and three platters, two covered dishes, a gravy boat and a sugar bowl - that still had crusted sugar in it.

I also kept some etched crystal goblets and tumblers, with their own delicate flowers. I don't know who made them or how old they are, because there are no marks to research.

It's all very delicate and very old-fashioned in style. It's a little foolish of me to keep it - it doesn't suit my lifestyle or my decor. When will I ever use it? Doesn't it just take up cabinet space?

Well, that's what Mom said about it, too. But, like her, I just can't let it go. We've shed so many things from the past already, it just seemed important to keep one thing intact.

It seemed sad to just take these pretty dishes with their frilly edges and pink flowers out of the boxes and then pack it away from the light again. So we decided to set a pretty table, just for the two of us.

We bought a pretty pot of tulips and some fresh vegetables, and panfried a ham steak with some homemade plum pickles. And we had a nice celebration. There's something about eating at a pretty table makes the food taste better, doesn't it?

I can tell that future Thanksgivings are going to be very pretty occasions at our house!

NOTE: I am working all day Saturday, so I'll visit your Pink Saturday posts on Sunday. If you want to know what I'm doing, visit my Sneak Preview post - and then visit this website.