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PostHeaderIcon Have Your Own Palm Springs Weekend

Whether you are into shopping, the outdoors, entertainment or just lounging by the pool, Palm Springs is your weekend destination.  A little more than an hour by plane (Alaska Airlines has three daily non-stops from SFO) or about seven hours by car, this desert community has something for everyone.

More than 100 years ago, Palm Springs was a sleepy village situated in what were once hallowed Indian canyons.  By the turn of the 20th Century, it was thought to be a place with restorative powers, due to the natural hot springs.  By the 1920’s, it was discovered by movie makers and the Hollywood elite.  Considered just far enough from Los Angeles to be out of the reach of tyrannical studio heads, movie stars flocked to the area to let down their hair and party like early rock stars.

As the era of Old Hollywood faded, the “Rat Pack,” headed by Frank Sinatra made it their own, building luxurious homes and backing the building of high end resorts and golf courses.  But by the 80s, Palm Springs had become a faded beauty, known for tacky tee-shirt shops and retirees.

Enter Sonny Bono.  The entertainer, restaurant entrepreneur and social activist ran for mayor and to everyone’s surprise, won the seat.  Bono worked hard to bring the charisma back to the area, starting the Palm Springs International Film Festival, helping to restore the city core and bringing media attention back to the desert community. Sadly, he was killed in a tragic ski accident in 1998 .
But his work and dreams live on.  Today, Palm Springs is a happening place, full of fascinating things to do, places to visit and of course that unbeatable weather.

Here’s how you can experience your own Palm Springs Weekend:


3:00 p.m.:  Take the mid-afternoon flight from SFO to PSP.  Check into the Ace Hotel, the newest and hippest hotel in the city.  You may see in its stark white walls and orange doors a faint resemblance to a 60’s Motel 6, which it once was.  The room rate varies by season, so check the website to make reservations.

6:00 p.m.:  Head to Tropicale in downtown PS for cocktails and dinner.  The outside patio is a great place to meet new friends while you enjoy the warm evening air.  The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating.  Serving a Hawaiian Fusion menu, entrees run from about $15 to $25.

10:00 p.m.:  Don’t miss a show of the Palm Springs Follies.  You may have to order tickets ahead of time as this is the most popular show in the city.  60 and 70 year old showgirls sing and dance their way through the music of the 1930s to 1950s.  Las Vegas has nothing on this extravaganza.


9:00 a.m.:  After breakfast at the Kings Highway at the Ace, rent scooters right out front and motor around the fascinating mid-century neighborhoods nearby.  Stop at the top of Palm Canyon Drive, and look south for a dead on view of Bob Hopes house, designed by famed architect John Lautner.

Noon:  Park your scooter in front of LOOK, for lunch.  The lime green and black and white décor makes for a perfect place to experience the ultimate PS vibe.  The food and service are the best with a covered patio to keep you out of the sun.  My favorite, a wrap called Nuts and Clucks runs just under $10.

2:00 p.m.:  Continue your scooter tour through the downtown neighborhoods of Las Palmas, The Movie Colony and Old Tuscany.  Get a map of the celebrity homes just about anywhere downtown so you don’t miss the pad where Elvis spent his honeymoon with Priscilla or the Peter Lawford house, where it’s said Marilyn Monroe secretly met with Bobby Kennedy.

6:00 p.m.:  Cool your tired body with a margarita and dinner at El Mirasol.  This come as you are Mexican restaurant attracts all types, from blue haired grandmas to families to in- the-know gay men.  Get there early, as it gets crowded.  Once you have your table, don’t hurry the meal.  The people-watching is as good as the food.  Their signature margarita is about $8, but the food itself is very inexpensive.

9:00 p.m.:  Stroll along the retro shops of north Palm Canyon.  Window shop, take in an art gallery opening or grab a gelato.


10:00 a.m.:  Right across from the Ace is Koffi, where you can sit by the fountain and enjoy the view of Mt. Jacinto.  Also be sure to check out Koffi downtown, where Sunday morning is an event with the grassy yard filled with morning people and their dogs.  Right next door is Just Fabulous, where you can buy gifts, cards and books on the history and homes of Palm Springs.

1:00 p.m.:  Palm Springs is famous for its consignment stores.  Two of the best are The Estate Sale and J & J Consignments.  Peruse everything from furniture to art to jewelry here.  If you see something you like, buy it.  By tomorrow, it may be gone.

4:00 p.m.:  As your afternoon draws to a close, take time to lounge by the pool.  The Ace pool area is usually rocking with a lively crowd on late Sunday afternoons.

7:00 p.m.:  Palm Springs is loaded with entertainment options.  From the McCallum Theatre to the Annenberg Theater to the many casinos in the area, there is always a great artist in town.  Recent concerts ran the gamut from Reba McIntyre to Earth, Wind and Fire to Adam Lambert.

Sadly, you’ll have to catch that Monday flight home.  But this is one weekend you won’t forget while you make notes of all the things still to do on your next visit.--SEW


Ace Hotel



El Mirasol
140 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
760 323 0721

The Estate Sale

Palm Springs Follies

McCallum Theatre

Annenberg Theater


PostHeaderIcon A Senior Moment

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. We wish all the mothers of the world a wonderful day. Contributing writer Steve Wallace wrote this in honor of his own mother. Enjoy.

The day before Easter, I got an e-mail from my mother. Now, that in itself isn’t so unusual, she e-mails me often. But those are usually of the "Why haven’t you called me?" variety or a smattering of forwarded jokes, funny stories or self-help ideas. No, this one was very special. It read: "Today Toby and I got married."

My mother is 74. She is still a beautiful woman and has a wicked wit and sense of humor. She can tell from 3,000 miles away if I’m having a bad day and I can tell from her "hello?" on the phone what kind of day she is having. We have had our ups and downs over the years. She can be stubborn, needy, loving, funny, exasperating, thoughtful or my best friend. Sometimes these things happen in the same day.

We have gone through periods of not talking, periods of talking three times a day. We share the same gene pool and to my total mortification I often hear, "You look just like your mother." Her greatest pet peeve in when someone says to her "Carolyn, you look just like YOUR mother." We are way too much alike, which can often lead to misunderstandings, pettiness and hurt feelings. On the other hand, we can sit and talk to each other for hours oblivious to the rest of the world.

My parents divorced when I was 17. They married way too young, and if you look at pictures of their wedding day you will see a couple of terrified kids who are keeping the secret of a baby on the way (ME.) By their 30’s they realized that they were different people, with opposite ideas of what they wanted in life. Divorce is never easy and theirs was typical of most, but it was what they both needed to do to be happy.

For many years, mom struggled with her identity and insecurities. Having gone from a daughter and only child to a wife and mother, she wasn’t always sure who she was or what she wanted. There were other relationships. A second marriage that didn’t work out and another long term boyfriend. But eventually she found herself single again and stayed that way for nearly 20 years.

Then at her fiftieth high school reunion, in the small town in Ohio where she grew up, she ran into Toby. They had known each other in school, but not dated. They probably didn’t even run in the same crowd, but he had never forgotten her. He had also had a marriage or two, had grown children and a life time of experiences. They immediately found a commonality and bond.

But there was one big problem. He lived in Oregon and she lived in Florida. I think the term "geographically undesirable" might have applied here, but for them and the modern world, it made no difference. By phone, computer and the US mail, they got reacquainted and found laughter, joy and eventually love. He visited Florida. They spent a summer together exploring the country by car and visited family, introducing each other to their respective children and friends.

Within two years they had figured out how to share a life. Toby moved to Florida and somehow, two people in their 70s were living the life they may have had in that small town in Ohio in 1954.

This brings us to today.

That e-mail did catch me off guard, as it did my brothers and I’m sure Toby’s children, too. But, they planned a wedding just for them. No stress about inviting everyone. No frustration over other peoples wishes and wants. Just the two of them in front of their local minister in the library of their church. He was handsome in a suit and she was pretty in pink. They both wore big smiles with trust, hope and respect in their eyes.

So, for having the courage to find happiness at 74, for having the strength to just go for it, for having the love to sustain a new beginning, I celebrate your marriage even from a distance.

Congratulations Carolyn and Toby.--SEW


PostHeaderIcon Find Your Way to Style This Summer

This is the May installment of the Designer's Log by Danville designer Steve Wallace. Look for Wallace's column once a month, usually the first Thursday of the month and feel free to email him ideas.

As I’m writing this today it’s raining and cool, even though it’s May.  But, don’t let this longer than usual winter weather fool you. Summer is almost here, and you need to be ready.  Just like you’ll be trading in the coats and boots for shorts and flip-flops, your home and yard wants to shed the gloom and show its stuff.

Here are 5 ideas to get your summer off to a fresh new start:

Get your outdoor furniture refreshed.

Winter can be downright hostile to your patio furniture. The rain, freezing temperatures and winds may leave your outdoor area looking worse for wear.  Take time to give your furniture the attention it needs so when you are ready to sit out there with a cool drink it’s ready for you.

Teak furniture can be cleaned with mild soap and water.  For tough stains, use a scrub brush with a little bleach.  If you haven’t sealed it, it will have turned a silver-grey color. If you like that look, great; if you want your teak to look like new again, use teak oil, found at any hardware store. 

Metal or aluminum furniture should hold up well over the winter. It’s best covered or put in storage, but if not, a good hosing will wash away dirt and grime.  Most furniture made of metal or aluminum has a powder coating, which should not fade or discolor. If you have cushions, clean with a mild soap and scrub brush. 

Wood or wicker furniture will be most damaged by the elements.  Look for cracks or loose joints.  Often these can be fixed with wood glue.  More serious issues can be addressed by re-weaving or new dowels.  Consider painting wood or wicker for a bright, fresh new look.  White is always a safe bet, but wouldn’t it be fun to brighten up the space with sapphire blue or canary yellow?

Plant a container garden

Whether you have a large yard or a small balcony, plants and flowers in pots bring life and color to any space.  Use odd shapes and sizes of containers for that unplanned, natural look.  Pansies, vinca vine and geraniums are all inexpensive to buy, easy to plant and require low maintenance.  Check with your local nursery for what works best in your situation.  It’s even fun to plant vegetables and herbs.  Tomatoes, beans, strawberries and basil all thrive well in pots.

Invest in new accessories

This is the time of year to find great plastic serving pieces at the stores.  I’ve seen colorful plates, glasses, pitchers and platters everywhere from Tuesday Morning to Target to Pottery Barn.  You can also use mismatched glasses for candles (remember Citronella keeps the bugs at bay), throw an assortment of colored pillows on the hammock and rolled up towels on the chaise lounges for that resort look.

Plan a barbeque

Nothing gets the season off to a fun start like an outdoor party with friends and family. Make it easy on yourself and don’t over plan the event.  Grill hamburgers or chicken, make a large green salad and serve strawberries and ice cream for dessert.  Don’t offer too many refreshments, you don’t want to play bartender all afternoon.  Wine, beer and soda should be enough to please everyone.  E-vite.com has great summer- themed invitations for a fast and convenient way to keep track of the guest list and RSVP’s. 

Your insides need love too

Although this is the time of year to spend more time outside, do something to bring summer indoors.  Paint an accent wall yellow or lime green or lilac.  Place a bouquet of wildflowers in a glass pitcher.  Hang sheer drapes from a rod and let the breeze move them around.  I have a brightly colored throw from Hawaii that in the spring comes out of hibernation to brighten up on the bed or sofa. You can feel like you are on a tropical island inside your house as well as out.

Whatever you do, make it fun.  Let your imagination wander. This is vacation time. There should be no rules, no schedules, and no stress. Grab that margarita, your sun screen, your baseball cap and get out there and enjoy.

Steve Wallace lives in Danville. An interior designer for more than 20 years, his work has been featured in Palm Springs Life and he is completing a book about design for publication soon. He writes a monthly entry for www.allnewsnoblues.com about design and style. Contact him at www.stevewallacedesign.com or call 925.915.1005.



PostHeaderIcon Student's Legacy Lives Through Blanket Project

Through the work of the Trevor Eagle Blanket Foundation, more than 400 handmade blankets have already been donated to pediatric patients at Children’s Hospital Oakland. 
The project came out of the death of Walnut Creek’s Trevor Tonsing, a 16-year-old Northgate High School sophomore who died on Dec. 17, 2009 after collapsing from heart failure at school. Trevor was born with complex congenital heart defects and underwent a series of surgeries at Children’s Hospital Oakland before he was 6 months old.
Because of their strong connection to Children’s Hospital, his family wanted to do something to help other children who are in the hospital. At his memorial service, they announced they would continue the Eagle Scout project Trevor had started working on six months before his death.

Trevor started making blankets for his Eagle Scout project after his older sister Kiley, now 18, made an assortment of fleece blankets for holiday gifts. 

“Trevor thought the blankets that Kiley made were warm and comforting and that children who were undergoing medical treatments at Children’s Hospital would really like them,” says Trevor’s mom, Anita Tonsing, 48. “He originally hoped to distribute 200 blankets for his Eagle Scout Project."

Trevor was a Life Scout, a rank that is earned by fulfilling additional leadership positions, service hours, and merit badges. Boys are expected to be role models and leaders in the troop, providing guidance to new scouts and helping the troop however he can. With Boy Scout Troop 832 in Walnut Creek, Trevor was on his way to earning his Eagle Scout Badge, an award that is earned by only 4 percent of all Boy Scouts. 

Trevor did receive the award after his death. The Mt. Diablo Silverado Council — Boy Scouts of America in Pleasant Hill nominated and approved Trevor for the Spirit of the Eagle award as an honorary posthumous special recognition.
As the project continues, scouts will use fleece material and tie the edges of two pieces together, giving a fringe appearance. Often one side is printed and one side is plain.

Now you can be part of the blanket-making process at a festival from 2:15 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 13 at Northgate High School, 425 Castle Rock Road, Walnut Creek. The foundation welcomes any type of contributions including, blankets, sewing materials or money. All donations can be delivered to Trevor’s Eagle Blanket Foundation, c/o Archer Norris, 2033 North Main St., Walnut Creek. More information, including directions on how to make the fleece blankets, go to trevorsblankets.org. --LC

Linda Childers is an East Bay freelance writer. This is her first piece for allnewsnoblues.com.


PostHeaderIcon What it Takes to Ride a Bike for 30 Hours

Lee Briggs wanted to do something big to celebrate his 30th birthday. A couple of his buddies had run 30 miles each to mark theirs, but that didn't appeal to Briggs. So, he decided to ride his road bicycle for 30 hours. That's right. An entire Saturday and then six hours into a recent Sunday. He also raised more than $5,100 for a Berkeley nonprofit that runs sports programs for disabled children and adults. We caught up with Lee to find out what it took to survive the journey.

ANNB: Where did the idea to ride 30 hours for your 30th birthday come from?
LB:My wife Melissa; we were brainstorming a couple ideas and off the cuff she said "you could bike for 30 hours." 

ANNB: What kind of training did you do?
LB: I biked to work (from home in Corte Madera) to San Francisco’s Presidio as much as possible; about 32 miles round trip with some good climbs out of Sausalito. I also did intense, once a week, heavy weight strength training on my legs and several long rides on the weekends. I rode 65, 90, 100 and 150 miles on training ride. The best training was the 2 weeks of pure rest before the ride.

ANNB: On the actual 30 for30th ride, where did you ride?
LB: From my home in Corte Madera north ~80 miles to Cloverdale, back down south to Geyserville, east and south to Calistoga, south to Napa, back north on the Silverado Trail to 128 east to Winters, south to Fairfield and Vallejo, over the San Pablo Bay into Richmond and finally ending at Berkeley. A total of 280 miles.

Lee is on the left in the photo. Credit: © Scot Goodman

ANNB: What did you eat on the ride?
LB: Everything I could swallow and lots of it. Pizzas, potatoes, bananas, apples, granola bars, cereal, cookies, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bagels, sport jelly beans, Gatorade, and coffee.

ANNB: Did you have any problems along the way?
LB: Fortunately, nothing that threatened finishing, certainly soreness radiated from spot to spot and we did distinctively see a drunken driver in Fairfield at 5 a.m. Sunday. Also, eating so much food was beyond nauseating at times. 
ANNB: What was the best part of the ride?
LB: The night section with my buddies, Brent and Tommy.

ANNB: What other athletic feats have you accomplished in your 30 years?
LB: I bicycled across the country in 2007, 3,800 miles over 68 days from Kitty Hawk at the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of my home state of North Carolina to San Francisco. I ran the San Francisco Marathon in 2008 and completed a triathlon. Oh yeah, we won a softball intramural championship in college. 

ANNB:  What did you learn doing this ride?
LB: Preparation is everything. 
ANNB: We understand you have raised money for the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP). Why did you choose that nonprofit?
LB: I believe in BORP and know they give participants a spectacular opportunity to be active, competitive and more importantly self competitive. Physical exertion is empowering, and above and beyond its immediate physical benefits it is absolutely crucial to mental well being. BORP's amazing adaptive cycling program was the perfect synergy for 30for30th ride.

ANNB: What's up next?
LB: The wheels were turning for the next adventure as soon as I woke up from a night's rest. --KB


PostHeaderIcon Weighing In Not Always Easy

At this week's Weight Watcher's meeting I chickened out and did not weigh in.  A WW staff member scanned my membership book and printed out a sticker indicating that I had attended the meeting but did log my current weight.  I was afraid that I would mar my perfect record of more than 6 months of weight losses by having a gain "on the books."  

The program lets people skip a weigh in from time to time, but it's not something that's encouraged. I weighed myself at home on my weigh-in day and those three pounds I had picked up while on vacation earlier this month were still hanging around.
I continue to battle with getting out of "vacation mode" and back to the "losing weight" mode, so as an incentive the WW leader again offered me the traveling journal to take home. I've taken it home in the past and it has helped.

When you take home the traveling journal you must track what you eat every day and return the book at the next meeting. It serves three purposes.  First, you track because meeting attendees are counting on you to participate. Second, you can see what other people who have had the journal are eating and vice versa. Third, it provides ideas for varying your diet and may even include a recipe or two. You can also see how much exercise others are doing. I am tracking my food consumption this week and it's helping.  
Meanwhile, every time I have tried to run lately I have been thwarted by bad weather or my schedule.  It's been longer than a week since I've run and now I feel like I'm going to be sore when I finally get out there.
What are the lessons I've learned from this "vacation" from the program and from exercise?  It's hard to get back on track.  I would rather not have to reprogram my mind to be a good weight watcher and exerciser.  
On the postive side: all the clothes still fit that fit before I left on vacation. However, I miss the possibility of fitting in to more clothes when I get dressed in the morning. And there are many items staring at me from inside the closet hoping to get into the rotation, especially with summer approaching. See you next week with a new picture. --AV

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