It has been a wonderful year of travel, dinners, lunches, concerts, music and conventions. Best of all - many new friends. To all my old
friends, I love you - thank you for your support, encouragement, and
May our 2017 be filled with hope, adventures, escapes, and fun!
While in Vancouver BC, Canada the first of December I enjoyed a beautiful drive to Whistler. The drive is called the "Sea to Sky" Highway and is a gloriously scenic drive. I guess the drive could be done in an hour and a half, but why rush. I stopped many time to take photos and had my breakfast tea in the beautiful village of Horseshoe Bay.
Horseshoe Bay - Whytecliff Park
Horseshoe Bay locate about half way between Vancouver and Whistler is worth the drive almost within itself. It is the ferry loading junction for several ferry that take cars and walkers to remote islands in the Howe Sound. The islands are for next time. While there I enjoyed a beautiful walk-on the pier and watched as the ferry load and depart with the mountains in the background. Whytecliff Park is located just west of Horseshoe Bay and had incredible vistas overlooking the sound with jagged cliff and large rocks just off the shore.
Whistler and Vancouver were the host cities for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Much of that spirit seems to be still there. I spent later morning and early afternoon there; Exploring, lunch, enjoying the views and shops. It was snowing while I was there. Lunch was by a fireplace in an beautiful village restaurant and after I found a bakery for delicious and much appreciated hot chocolate. From the bottom photo you can see the ski trails in the distance on one of the mountains. Whistler village is between two mountains with skiing available on both. Both mountains have over a 5000 ft drop down to the village and surrounding lodging. A beautiful ski village. What a fun "Sea to Sky" escape.
The proper way to set a table, according to Mindy Lockard, an etiquette and lifestyle expert and founder of the Gracious Girl blog. (May van Millingen/for The Washington Post)
’Tis the season for elegant holiday entertaining and dinners out at fancy restaurants. Ladies always know proper etiquette. So show your feminine wisdom by making you mother proud. Sit up straight, chest out, and use the proper fork. Information source: TheWashingtonPost.
Thank you MJ for posting this on your FaceBook page.
Stana’s wonderful post on “Men” reminded me of a New York City encounter I had. Sometimes an occurrence is so far over the top you have to laugh. That is just what I did. I have been going out and interacting for over 30 years. I have found that a smile disarms and can overcome most any situation. In addition, after many positive interactions I will never let one negative event, turn my day. So here is what happened: This was during the time I was working as Rhonda and was in NY City to attend a business related seminar/company retreat. The hotel reservation was in Rhonda’s name so my only option was arrive, and check in as Rhonda. I had visited friends in up-state NY for the weekend and had taken the train into Manhattan. By lunchtime I was all checked in. My hotel was about a half block from Times Square, so I put on my girl’s London Fog coat and headed out for a walk. I was wearing, jeans, low heel boots, a sweater and minimal daytime makeup. It was mid-day Sunday and Times Square was busy. I had gotten over "crowd fear" many years ago so just walked, taking in the late fall crisp air and noise of the city. As I am walking I crossed paths with an obvious very disheveled homeless man. He looked me straight in the eyes and mumbled:
You are ugly. You are a man. You must be an undercover cop. So take you pension and go home to Jersey.
To myself I said “Welcome to New York City, Rhonda".
What was there to do but laugh? I could have retreated to my hotel and cried, purged all of Rhonda’s clothes and swore to never go in public again – BUT NO. You take life as it comes. Fashion critics come in all forms. I laughed at myself and I am still laughing. Later that afternoon I did go back to my hotel and got better dressed. After I walked the short distance to the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on 45th Street and saw the Sunday Matinee of Kinky Boots. It was in preview at the time. The play was wonderful! Later that evening an elegant business dinner with others in town for the meetings.
Humble pie is best served with a good sense of humor.
The photos above are for my friends to the far north. I am sharing the above photos of a South Florida Christmas day visiting the beach. Temperature 82 degrees. I hope that everyone had a beautiful holiday and Santa delivered beautiful items for you to wear on upcoming "Escapes". Just to make sure, Rhonda took care and Amazon Santa delivered some very nice items. Like her wardrobe is lacking? I will put-up some new fashion layouts soon. I hope you did as well. Just in case, there is always the "day after" sales. Yesterday after some quality time with family, I put the top down an drove over the to beach. The beach is just a few miles away and I go often to just sit and enjoy. Yesterday the beach was full of people; swimming, sunning, and kite surfing. I love the effort a family likely put into the beach snow man. It was located to the right at the end of the beach walkway; photo upper left. The photos are not exactly Rhonda's Travels but the day and beach was so beautiful, I had to share. Happy Boxing Day.
This was a casual travel outfit I wore recently. The Chico's Sweater was a new purchase from Cyber-Monday and is very flattering and feminine - 1/2 price. It comes in white / ivory and looks great with jeans. I love the draped arm shape. A resent purchase as well is the Lauren bag which was 30% off when I got it at the Palm Beach Lauren store and is still 40% off on-line for a few more days. I have really come to love the clean front lines of the JAG Pull on Jeans (Macy's). The other items are from a few months back and the the Ankle Boots are last season. These boots are the best! They have a 3" stacked heel and I wore these all day while walking blocks from parking to museum and touring galley after gallery.
This is a great "blend in" and "put together" look.
I love the look of loop earrings. They seem to be quite the in look and do go with everything. The ones above are from Boston Proper - "Sexy Loops". I do not have pierced ears. And there is not a good reason for me having never done it. I know that a world of better and more stylish earrings would open up. I even own a kit that includes the single use spring loaded gold ball and post that self pierces - Someday. Until then I have a trick that I do that works for loop earrings. Likely you already know this but I will just relate it quickly here: I cut off the post that goes through the ear with a Dremel, grind/file the edge smooth and then push the opening in, so the back fold will hold the earring to the ear. Some adjustments are required for comfort and position, but typically I can wear these all day comfortably. The only loops you can do this with are the ones that have the spring closure shown above. The post that hinges and locks will not work. I have gotten this to work in various size loops but personally tend to stay away from the oversize loops. Simply because my style sense says the large loops are reserved for the younger generation. See what works for you, your hair, and you sense of adventure.
Do you have your ears pierced? Anyone notice? Anyone care?
I was totally unprepared of my last trip in the cold. And it was only fall - The real cold had not started. So on this the winter solstice, I do feel prepared. I am being threatened in the next few months with business trips to Montreal, Chicago and Minneapolis. What did I do wrong? So a girl must be prepared or is that a Boy Scout? I forget. A unlined jeans jacket is fine for Florida cool, however for "real" cold - not. Must go shopping! South Florida department stores do carry winter coats but a very limited offering. The small selection is there of the poor souls like myself that must travel. With all caution and good sense thrown out, I went and tried coats. With no makeup and basically in boy mode, I tried on coats for a good 15 minutes. Surprise one - No one noticed, no one cared. Surprise two - the selection was boring. But I now had a general feeling on size and could shop on-line where the styles are better. I had seen a woman wearing a really cute flair "A-Line" coat in Vancouver and hoped it was still in style. I found the red one, top right, at Macy's on-line and it is cute. It is just the right mix of warm and fashion to be work for dinner, the theater or a concert. It has a definite feminine cut. It is available here from Amazon. Now for the serious cold I purchased the down 3/4 windbreaker, upper left. I purchased my coat from Lord & Taylor, on-line, and got another discount during Cyber Monday. The White is sold out at Lord & Taylor but Amazon still has it here . It is warm and lightweight and the faux fur hood is really cute. The collar/hood frames the face. I have been watching the Pikolinos, W3E-8710 boots since I first saw them early in the fall. Love the heel (8cm 3.2") and I seem to be able to walk with no difficulty in a heel that high. The have the LL Beam duck boot, toe look going on. The new boots are the same height as my last season Pilolonos, booties that I treaked all over Toronto last month, so I know that height and heel shape will work all day. Here is the Pikolinos site to get a better view. I found them at Amazon, 1/2 off. Overall I have found that Pikolinos shoes are of very good quality, have great style, and are reasonably priced. This is my third pair. I know they will work great with jeans, pants, and may give the new pair a try with a long skirt. Stay tuned. I have been in South Florida to long to say I am really ready to face the frigid weather, I may be visiting. Yes, spoiled. However I will at least, be dress appropriately.
OK - How do you girls handle the winter cold - advice?
The pre-holiday season always bought a wonderful treat to my country home. Early fall the "Sears Wish Book" (1933-2005) would arrive. This was a special edition for gift giving and toys. In the days before Toys "R" Us and Walmart superstores, these catalogs represented the largest array of toys most children could ever hope to see in one place. So this was the section where I started. Toys were the first priority (my wish list for Christmas). My next favorite sections was the women's/Junior's section with special interest given to the lingerie and sleep wear. What I really wished Santa could bring. Today we have do is click and the item is delivered the next day. It seems so long ago that the Wish Book Catalog could carry such importance. However it did. I have written about this long ago treasure before and hope for you it also brings back special holiday memories.
What is the single most important feminine item to wear. Skirt vs Pants – NO. Heels vs Flats - NO. These two items can be gender neutral and depending on culture/historical time, either masculine or feminine. The one item that women wear consistently more than men – a smile. According to Dr. Oz’s Blog, The average woman smiles 62 times a day and the average man only 8. On the web site oneHowTO under the heading “How to be a Feminine Woman”, Mary Smith states:
A feminine woman always smiles. Femininity is closely related to self-love and acceptance of ourselves. When you are happy with who you are and accept your body and your personality, you will feel so complete that it is impossible not to meet everyone with a smile. Wherever you arrive, show your best smile and contagious joy.
Dr. Lillian Glass in her Body Language Blog analyzed Caitlyn Jenner style this way: "Besides her masculine voice, walk, gesturing, and poor posture which do not reflect her femininity, I am very worried about her. As you can see in candid photo of her, she never smiles when captured in public. She does not look happy. She may not have been happy as Bruce, but she is clearly not showing happiness and joy as Caitlyn." When I am out as Rhonda I am happy and want that to be reflected in my face. How about you? If someone is watching me and may detect that something in not 100%, then I will give then the biggest smile I can find. Why? Because I am comfortable being who/what I am. Criticize my fashion choice if you must; i.e. skirt too short for my age, heels too high for comfort. However, I want people to know I am a happy person. A smile is contagious and it something I can share. Try it!
Caitlin and I started out evening at the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach - Cocktails at 6:00. We have fallen into a very nice group of regular attendees for the Thursday event and always see friends there. What a nice way to start an evening. The photos around the X'mas tree are from their lobby as we were leaving to go to dinner. Our next stop was Renato's Restaurant, a few block away on the famous Worth Avenue. As the two beautiful ladies that we were, we were escorted to a courtyard table and had no less than 6 servers working our table - Matier d, wine, water, bread, main waiter, and desert. Even the manager dropped by to say hello.
Taken at our table during dinner.
I hope you can see from the center photo just how elegant a restaurant Renato's is. Where else but South Florida could you dine in an outside courtyard in December. Coats not required as we looked up at a star filled sky a block from the Atlantic Ocean beach.
As we were having dinner at one of Palm Beach most elegant dinner establishments we both thought back to times when an evening out entailed hours of getting dressed, a mad dash to our car, a terrifying ride around the block near our home or hotel and then another mad dash back in. All hoping that no one would see us. We have come a long way and realize now that our fears were so unfounded.
What are you going to do to escape this weekend? Caitlin thank you for such a beautiful, fun evening.
Yesterday Paula Commented on my "Passing vs Acceptance" post. Thank you for this wonderful comment that deserved to be seen by all.
Comment by Paula
Want to start uproar on a transgender support site? Just mention the phrase “pass as a woman.” Some forum moderators will not even allow the topic! I personally never had an issue with the term, but realize that it can be and is hurtful to many of my sisters. There is also a lot of politics tied up in the term, for these reasons I try not to use it. However the term constantly comes up, and is used in spite of all the criticisms. Heck younger transgender people use it without controversy. There is even a trans-passing sub-reditt that asks for passing advice. I’ve reflected on this idea during my journey and wondered, what is it that I am striving for?
Just thinking about all the effort and time we put into our presentation. It starts with shopping for the right clothes, finding hip pads and forms that work. Then there is shaving and more shaving, along with laser or electro. Then skin care, finding the right cosmetics, learning how to use them, with hours of practice. Then our hair, searching for and learning how to style the wig that’s right for us. Lest we not forget the accessories, the perfect purse, jewelry, scarf’s and belts. Oh wait shoes! That’s a book in itself. Then the night before it all gets laid out for the morning. That’s when the magic happens and the Phoenix rises from the ashes. Out the door we go expecting what? Exactly what is it in our psyche, in our hierarchy of needs that we are trying to satisfy? I am sure that I would get diverse answers from many of you and I would never be so presumptuous to think I have the singular and definitive raison d'être. However I believe I can identify a theme that is common for many of us. Something that runs deep in the DNA of transgender women and I’ll go one step further and venture to say it is in fact the same for every woman. But first let me share with you how I came to this conclusion. I was watching a historical documentary that covered the life of Marie Curie. It was this particular phrase that was an epiphany. “Universally recognized as a woman who changed modern science”.
The words that echoed in my mind were “recognized as a woman”. She in this instance was being recognized as a woman who did something significant. Let’s take a look at the definition of recognize:
Recognize: acknowledge the existence, validity, or legality of, accept, admit,realize, be aware of, be conscious of, perceive, discern, appreciate Synonym: officially approve, certify, accredit, endorse, sanction, validate.
I won’t go over this whole list of words girlfriends, however they all speak legions! When I walk into a store or office, your damm right I want to be “acknowledged” as a woman. To hear the words “Thank you Ma’am” isn’t that the “validation” we seek? How about being accepted, endorsed, or perceived as a woman? This is exactly what I’m seeking when my heels tap the floor as I walk thru a hotel lobby. I want people to recognize that a woman is walking by. I want them to see a woman, to recognize me for what I am deep down inside. A woman. Yes Ma’am that’s it!
I have never liked the concept of passing. It denotes some type of subterfuge is in play. Early on during my support group days, it was a term that was bantered about plenty. "Wow, he passes well. I bet he could go the movies and dinner and no one would notice." Pinterest is loaded with boards of dubious trans girls that pass and are beautiful. The passing concept has even become part of our social structure. Note Wikipedia’s definition:
Billy Tipton 1935 Dorothy commemorated the decision
Passing is the ability of a person to be regarded as a member of an identity group or category different from their own, which may include racial identity, ethnicity, caste, social class, sexuality, gender, religion, age and/or disability status. Passing may result in privileges, rewards, or an increase in social standing..
Gender passing refers when an individual is perceived as belonging to a gender identity group that differs from the gender with which they were assigned at birth. In Passing and the Fictions of Identity, Elaine Ginsberg provides Billy Tipton, a jazz musician who was assigned female sex at birth, but lived and performed as a man until his death in 1989, as an example of gender passing. A real life "Tootsie".
Within the transgender community, passing refers to the perception or recognition of a transitioned or transitioning trans-person as belonging to the gender identity to which they are transitioning rather than the sex or gender they were assigned at birth.
Gender variance is becoming so widely recognized, I question the relevance of “passing”. I know in my case I am Ma’am 3/4 the time, irrespective my presentation; AND I DO NOT CARE. Am I passing and as what? More important to me is how I am accepted. To accept me you do not categorizing me as attractive, or unappealing – intelligent or ill-informed - feminine or masculine. Acceptance is acknowledging me without judgement. I like that better!
The above sweater is full of contradictions. It has dressy sparkley with small sequins, yet is paired with jeans. It is a cozy turtle neck, yet has open "cold" shoulders. It is long as in tunic, looks warm and a winter white/grey color. So is it winter or what? Yesterday's delivery and I love it. I saw it last week on Deborah's site "Fabulous After 40" on her Leather Pants Styled 3 Ways post. She described the sweater this way:
Deborah Fabulous After 40
For this shoot, I’ve paired them with this very pretty cold shoulder turtleneck in a beautiful Grey Heather color. I think this sweater is a really cool idea. They’ve taken a very traditional cable knit sweater and given it a sexy twist by creating a peek-a-boo cut-outs at the shoulders.
This sweater has tiny bits of silver running through, giving it a subtle sparkle, and making it perfect for holiday time. It glistens, and in white (the other color it comes in), it reminds me of glistening snow. Very pretty.
I purchased it from Nordstom's during there "Friends" promotions last week and it arrived yesterday. It is beautiful and perfect for the cool Florida nights. A simulance to something worn for winter but definitely making a statement - Bold. I tried it on with an older Banana Republic grey leather A-line skirt and they make a great combination. This skirt is actually the same gray as the purse. A nice flirty look to the whole outfit. It is a dress up and dress down item.
The Talbot's Jeans are my every day jeans. A nice comfortable fit and cut. I wear a size 8 or sometimes 10, petite. I am considering ordering the Dooney Bucket Bag simply because of the beautiful grey color it comes in. it also is on sale this week at the Dooney site (179.00). I will driving past one of their Factory Outlet stores later this week and will check there before ordering.
Picture yourself dropping your coat off at the restaurant check and then being escorted to your center prominent table. Your chair is pulled out for you as you sit. As you look at the menu you know all the other ladies are saying under their breath, "I wonder where she got that lovely sweater?".
While in Toronto a few weeks back I visited the Reif Estate Winery, Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario. The tasting room was beautiful as well the entrance to the property. Everyone there was friendly and took pride in explaining the wines tasted and their specialty "Icewine". A wine I was not at all familiar. Icewine is a desert wine that I totally enjoyed. My sweet-tooth went into overdrive. Icewine taste like no other wine. From what I learned that day - Icewine is traditionally served in a smaller dessert wine glass but can be enjoyed in a white wine glass; both will showcase all of its wonderful aromas. As they explained, Icewine pairs well with almost any dessert or can be poured on fresh berries or ice cream for the perfect treat. It is delicious! This is how Reif's website explains how it is made:
The grapes for Icewine are picked in winter at temperatures of at least -8˚C so that only the highly concentrated juice is pressed from the frozen berries, leaving behind the icy water crystals. The result of these unique climatic conditions is a deliciously sweet wine with exceptional high concentration of sugars, acids and extracts from the grapes with intense flavours and aromas. Although Icewine was first produced in Germany in 1794 Canada is now the largest and best producer of Icewine.
My guess it was discovered many centuries ago by total accident one morning when the grape pickers were surprised by a sudden overnight freeze. This is a story totally made up by me, but if there is any truth, What a wonderful mistake. I only wish they shipped to the US. Thank you Ron for this wonderful treat as well many others that weekend.
Reif Estate Winery - A beautiful video
A cool day at the Winery - Love the fall colors This photo was shot just outside the winery's tasting room.
Last week while in Vancouver I stayed in a downtown hotel. One evening with nothing to do, I decided to get out and found a blast-from-the-past treasure. A real downtown department store - Hudson’s Bay or as it is known locally, “The Bay”. No, not the generic “Federated" model of a mall department store, but the real deal. A full-line department store housed in a six-story cream terracotta building with Corinthian columns, built in 1927. As I enjoyed walking through the departments and riding the escalators, floor-by-floor I could not help but remember shopping over the years. This is something I learned from my mother who was a world class shopper. Whenever we went to “town” a stop at our local department store “Leggett’s” was required. Later, I went to college in Richmond Virginia and always enjoyed walking to the downtown Thalhimers and Miller & Rhoads. Both of these stores were downtown, multi-floor, all afternoon, shopping experiences. The downtown shopping area was about a 6-8 block walk from campus. I could look/wonder for hours, enjoying mainly the woman’s fashions. So my stop at The Bay brought back wonderful memories of stores lost in time. Listed above are just a few that I remember, and every city seemed to have its flagship department store. Department stores have been so homogenized that they all seem to look the same and carry the same products - Uniqueness lost. A wonderful blog I found discussed North America’s independent department stores - A fun look.
What wonderful department stores do you remember? What was your favorite store? Any stories to share?
While In Toronto last month I has a wonderful evening with Dina D Paige. I wrote about it on last Friday's Friend post. Paige is a person who has traversed an amazing public transgender journey. Her acceptance of who she is and where she is in our community is truly unique. A story of acceptance that is amazing. Most important she is open to sharing and helping. Here is Paige's comment to me and to all of us:
Hi, this is Dina D Paige herself. Thank you Rhonda for all of your accolades, I believe strongly in the work I do and feel that it resonates with how you live your life as well. What I'd like to talk about is one of my most important core themes, which is to learn acceptance of who we are right now and to embrace both your maleness and your femaleness. Accepting who we are right now, at the point in the journey you are on, is pivotal to your balance, happiness and success in life. The journey to acceptance can seem daunting but you don't have to do it alone. Embrace important people in your life who can be your cheerleaders and shoulders to cry on. People who want to help you down your path. I can be one of those support people. It is OK to not have all the answers. It's OK to change your mind or how you feel as you go along. You don't have to do it alone, I would love the chance to help you create your most, authentic self.
Last week while shopping in Vancouver's Hudson's Bay department store I found the above grey sleeveless sweater. It was not inexpensive but on sale. I had hopes it would look good with white jeans/slacks and the faux-snake print shoes I already have. I did purchase it and all of the above items came together well. Especially with the silver Brighton Necklace and other silver accessories I also already have.
Rhonda's Wind Swept Look
The sweater is Ralph Lauren and is available in the US from Lord and Taylor (on sale). Sorry the scan is not better but trust me it is gorgeous. It has a slight turtle neck look with slim fit going below the hips. I know, not likely your current season for sleeveless but think spring, or a cool summer night. It is winter Florida perfect. I purchased it without trying it on, hoping it would look good - And it does. Grey along with black seems to be my best color choices. Guess it is the hair. While shopping keep a mental picture of what you already have. Look for items that will work together and add to an existing outfit/look. This allows you to get more use out of the items that are already in your closet. A form of investment shopping - Good outfit planning.
Susan Street has a great video on planning a casual outfit of a evening party. Style suggestions, healthy eating tips, wardrobe ideas and accessories
tips for women. Brought to you by Fifty, not Frumpy blogger Susan Street
who now publishes SusanAfter60.com. Susan is a wonderful friend. Enjoy.
I love the new "Miss Adventure" campaign from Kate Spade New York with Miss Piggy. The news comes on the heels of her highly publicized breakup with Kermit the Frog back in August. As Piggy herself said in a release, “I’m experiencing a new freedom these days, taking chances, making decisions and, of course, inspiring all women to be like moi!” Now Kate Spade New York has dedicated a holiday collection to none other than Miss Piggy, sweaters, wallets, clutches and the like with her image, as well as that of her catchphrase, “Who, Moi?!” And this very important message from Miss Piggy to other women: “Trust yourself, and know who you are".
My Comment: Is it lost on everyone that the Muppet "Miss Piggy"'s principal performer was Frank Oz from 1976 to 2000? Since 2001 she is played by Eric Jacobson. See Wikipedia Miss Piggy for more info on this sometimes, lovable character.