Thursday, March 20, 2014

Puppy Portrait

I just recently finished this portrait of Mr. Darcy, Jennings' Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  Cavaliers are sweet little dogs and so much fun to paint because their very grave expressions contrast so comically with their fun-loving personalities and high energy.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

To Curtsey or Not To Curtsey

Princess Zinaida Nikolajevna Yusupova by Francois Flameng, 1894

The curtsey (or curtsy) is the traditional gesture of an inferior to a superior.  According to Gail MacColl in, To Marry an English Lord,"The court curtsy was very deep, with the head nearly touching the floor, and required extensive rehearsal.  The trickiest part was inching out of the royal presence, since one may not turn one's back on royalty."

King George III by Allan Ramsay, 1762

People in lands far, far away such as Great Britain, do it because they are subjects of the ruling monarch, the monarch's family members and others within the hierarchy of the British peerage.

Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutz, 1851

We Americans, one might recall, fought a small skirmish commonly referred to as The Revolutionary War, and penned a brief, explanatory document, The Declaration of Independence, precisely in order to free ourselves of royal rule, noble titles and the accompanying customs of subservience.  

Queen Victoria and Her Family by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1846

This is why, as fond or respectful as we may be of them, we do not bow, curtsey, or genuflect even to our own presidents or their family members.

The Coronation of Tsar Alexander III by Georges Becker

When American citizens delight in curtseying or other forms of symbolic subjugation to foreign heads of state, Judith Martin, (a.k.a. the brilliant Miss Manners) says that she reminds herself that they are likely just being silly, not treasonous.

George Nathanial, Marquess Curzon of Kedleston by John Singer Sargent 1914

"When an American official does it," she says,

Prince William Duke of Cambridge; Prince Harry by Nicola Jane Philpps 2009

"we can only hope it was because he was noticing that his own shoelace was undone-- and not that he recognizes the divine right of kings in general, or the authority over us of that king in particular."

The Landing of HRH The Princess Alexandra at Gravesend, 7th March 1863 by Henry Nelson O'Neil 1864

So what then, is one to do when one finds oneself presented to a queen, a duchess,

King Willem III of The Netherlands by Nicolaas Pieneman, 1856

or the president of the United States of America?

Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Duchess of York by Philip de Lazlo, 1925

The American greeting is elegantly simple.

Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull, 1817

Because our official position as a nation is that we consider all people to be equal, and equally worthy of respect, the same gesture, the handshake-- simple, dignified and egalitarian-- is appropriate for all. We understand that this is not universal, but as Americans, it is our way- so a handshake will be just fine.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Wonder Years

Two words: Volleyball scene.

My Coach post sparked a flood of reader e-mail.  One note had a fairly comprehensive list of 70's and 80's celebrity and television icons, like M*A*S*H, the gorgeous Bo Derek, and the much missed John Belushi.  Another reader told us that she recalls products- like Herbal Essence shampoo and Kissing Potion lip gloss.  Since I have had in the recent past, or will have in the reasonably near future (don't you love being vague on the internet?) a birthday, I shall take a moment and indulge in a little reminiscing.  Here are a few things that I remember.  How about you?

Tab.  It tasted pretty bad, but adding lemon helped.  Makes me grateful for Coke Zero.

Josten's class rings.  I wonder whatever happened to mine.  Do you still have yours?  Or, His?

How many times did you hear, "Don't sit so close to the TV, you'll ruin your eyes!"  If anyone grew up to become an Opthamologist, please let me know whether this was true.

Tube socks.

Bottle Caps.

Such a beautiful voice.

In Suntan, of course.

Libraries.  I liked the way the plastic covers on the books would crinkle expectantly when you opened them.  Still do.  I cover my cookbooks in clear protectors from  See them here.

We drank out of the hose and survived.

Captain Kirk was a total babe.  Plus he was smart, had a great sense of humor, saved planet Earth more times than I can count, and helped negotiate peace with the Klingons.  What more could you want in a man?  There is an excellent contemporary article on leadership (and successful living) at Forbes magazine, called "Five Leadership Lessons from James T. Kirk." Read it here.

He's dead, Jim!

Captain Kirk cupcakes.  Wouldn't you SO rather have these than a birthday cake?

Dr. Scholls.



And Farrah.

Tickle, Lemon Up shampoo and Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific! 

Boone's Farm, Chef Boyardee, Jiffy Pop, and of course Cheese Whiz in a can, (which was high gourmet at cocktail hour growing up prep).  What do you miss?  What do you remember?  

And to all of our dear readers who have celebrated a birthday in the recent past, or in the near future, we wish you Happy Birthday.  Save us some cake!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Put me in Coach...

Coach, Spring 2014

Wow, have you noticed the change in Coach recently?

Brook Shields for Calvin Klein

Many of us of a certain age remember carrying the iconic Coach bag in our youth.  Well-crafted and expensive, if slightly stodgy, the "Willis" bag with its double-stitched preppiness, looked just right with our Calvin Klein and Gloria Vanderbuilt jeans.  

Animal House

We carried the "Stewardess" turnlock, ubiquitous brand hangtag in full view, slung crossbody over Izod polo shirts which we layered 2 deep (I have no idea how we even moved in all of those clothes) over a turtleneck 

from Lisa Birnbach's Preppy Handbook

and under our Greek letters. 

Coach Borough Bag

But at some point while I wasn't paying attention, Coach grew up.  The Borough bag is the same top-quality Coach we knew and loved, but resuscitated with sleeker, more modern styling.

It comes in various leathers, but I'm particularly fond of the glossy polished calf.  The large-sized bag is available in oxblood or black, and costs $898.

I like the handy pockets inside, and clean lines outside.  

This jaguar print cape is just stunning.  I would wear it for evening, or over jeans tucked into tall boots, or with a black leather skirt and oversize sunglasses à la Emma Peel.

And I certainly wouldn't turn down the gift of these gorgeous, bottle-green leather gloves.

Orchard Wedge Shoe in Peach Rose

It is nice to see a great brand revived with more minimalist designs that highlight the handsome leathers and high-quality construction that Coach has made its hallmark.

Men's Transatlantic Travel Carryon in Tobacco

Has anyone else checked out the new Coach?

Jennings & Gates has not been compensated in any way by Coach.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sappy Christmas

Here is my silly and somewhat embarrassing Christmas tree story.  Growing up, it was always a big family event to go get the Christmas tree.  My first Christmas out of college, I lived in a small apartment, and had reasoned that it was impractical to have a real tree.  So embracing my new-found practicality and my credit card, off I went to get a faux tree from the local Target.  We pulled into the parking lot and got out of the car, but as we started walking toward the store, all of the sudden I burst into tears, much to the astonishment of the dear man I was with.  Alarmed, he said, "What is it, what's wrong?"

And I, in a perfectly ridiculous and unintelligible way said, "Nothing."  
"Okay, you are crying in a parking lot.  Clearly something is wrong."  
"I don't want to do this."  
"What?" He put both hands on my shoulders, "Go to Target?"  
"I don't want a fake tree.  I want a real tree."  

And without saying another word, the lovely man turned me around and put me back in the car and drove to the Boy Scout tree lot, where he froze as he patiently shook out 20 trees for me to look at, whereupon I finally chose the first one, which was far too enormous for the apartment.  And I was blissfully happy.  The End.  

In honor of sappy Christmas tree stories throughout history, here are the Jennings & Gates top ten reasons to buy a real Christmas tree this year.

10.  Buying a real tree promotes sustainable agriculture.  For every tree harvested, 2 or 3 seedlings are planted in its place.

9.  Christmas tree farms stabilize soil, protect water supplies and provide refuge for wildlife while creating scenic green belts. Often, Christmas trees are grown on soils that could not support other crops.

8.  Tree farming is a labor of love.  The growing time for a 6-foot tree, which is average retail sale height, is anywhere from 7 to 15 years.

7.  Most Christmas tree growers are small family farms.  If you believe that we need more family farms in the United States, then vote with your feet.  Buying a real Christmas tree is one simple way that you can effect real change.

Buying a real Christmas tree protects land near your home from development, and keeps your dollars local.  There are about 15,000 Christmas tree growers in the U.S., and over 100,000 people employed full or part time in the industry.

5.  Tree farms clean the air we breathe.  Real Christmas trees absorb carbon dioxide and other harmful gases and emit fresh oxygen.  Just one acre of Christmas trees cleans the air for 18 people.  With approximately one million acres producing Christmas trees in the United States, that translates into oxygen for 18 million people every day.  But farmers must make a living, so if people don't buy their trees, they won't grow them.  

4.  The tree buying trip is a memorable tradition for children and grandchildren.  No one ever looks back on their childhood and says fondly, "Wow, I remember the time we went to the big-box Super Store and picked out the fake tree made in China and lugged the box to the car."

3.  Most fake trees and wreaths are made in Korea, Taiwan or China and shipped by plane to the United States.  But fake trees don't last forever.  When they start to look ratty, they don't go back to Korea or Taiwan or China, they end up in our landfills and will never deteriorate.  

(Don't worry about buying a live tree and re-planting it, you don't need to- a cut real Christmas tree will biodegrade quickly and put valuable nutrients back into the soil.)

2.  A real tree or wreath smells good.  Like outdoors.  Fake trees and wreaths make you cry.

And the number one reason (as if you needed another one) to buy a real Christmas tree?  Simple.  A real Christmas tree is beautiful.

Please share your Christmas tree stories with us...