Kristin (Kris) E. Kirk loves creating and surrounding herself with beauty, which makes sense when you hear her past professions – beautician and flower arranger – and when you see her apartment! Her home is surrounded in animal prints, soft lighting, and just a little sparkle.
“I enjoy the moments of life. Every moment I’m here is a present,” says Kris, hinting that there is a lot more to her story.
Her parents, Neil and Janet Daniels, married before her dad left to serve in World War II. He became a B-17 pilot, flying 29 bombing missions over Germany. In the meantime, her mom worked as a “Rosie the Riveter”. On his return, they moved to Burbank, California where Kris was born and then her family moved to Denver. But the mile-high climate didn’t agree with her dad, who was then a United Airlines pilot, so the family headed to Los Altos, which “was just a little village then,” says Kris.
Kris married when she was just 18 and fresh out of high school. The marriage didn’t last – but she did discover a true love. “I went to Beauty College in Palo Alto and I was a natural!” says Kris. She was a hairdresser for 20 years and prided herself on pleasing her clients and listening to what they wanted. She even had her own salon in Palo Alto called House of Hair Styling.
Along the way she met and married her second husband, but their union was short-lived. He left before their son Jeffrey was born. She moved to Walnut Creek when a friend offered a home. “It was the late 1960s and he knew I was in a predicament,” says Kris. She pauses and says, “I’ve lived a real life, not a fairytale.” Her third husband lasted a lot longer and she was able to enjoy raising her child. Jeffrey now lives in Ohio with his wife, daughter, and stepdaughter. Kris is happy that she has been able to set up a college fund for her granddaughter.
Years of salon chemicals took their toll on Kris’s hands and she needed to change professions. Luckily, she discovered flower arranging and worked for Ah Sam, creating hundreds of arrangements. But life had another curveball in store.
After years of looking after others but not herself and catching fast-food meals on the run, Kris had a major stroke at just 59 years old. Her right arm was useless, and she had to relearn almost everything, but she laughs saying, “The physical therapist forced me to recover. She said, ‘You can swear all you want to!’ but she made me do the exercises. I promised God that I’d never eat another pizza.” That was 14 years ago, and it appears she has kept the promise regaining the use of her right arm and losing 100 pounds in 3 years.
Kris appreciates every day now and takes delight in the little things. She’s also quick to say how much she loves living at Sterling Court. The location makes it easy to walk downtown plus it’s close to her doctors. Kris loves the dining room and says the chef has a French flair and obviously “believes in people being healthy!” She also enjoys working out in the exercise room. Plus, her expert’s eye is impressed by the modern flower arrangements and the landscaping. She likes how people personalize their doors with decorations – hers has a zebra-print mini-wreath. She even compliments the cleaning staff!
To relax, Kris curls up by her window overlooking two sturdy oak trees and either reads a mystery or watches one on PBS. And when she’s feeling inspired, a trip to nearby Michaels craft store helps satisfy her need to create something beautiful.
At the end of the day, our home is always there for us – a calm sanctuary where we can truly relax and be ourselves. While you’d be hard-pressed to take your living space out to a fancy dinner this Valentine’s Day 🙂, you could instead profess your love for that awesome abode of yours by paying homage (home-age!) to your home sweet home. Expressing your appreciation is sure to make your living space a brighter, happier, healthier place. And isn’t this also the ultimate gift and way to show yourself love? Here are some ideas to demonstrate self-love and home gratitude. After all – home is where the heart is!
The Beauty of a Bouquet.
Flowers – the go-to gift that just doesn’t quit! That pop of color and good energy in your home will make you smile every time you walk in. Lighten your space and soften your mood with the beauty and fragrance of fresh flowers.
Change Up the Décor.
This can be a simple touch, like purchasing some new couch pillow covers – or perhaps attending Jeri’s creative art class on Mondays or Kay’s on Thursdays and making your own! And if sewing isn’t your thing, the process of crafting a piece of art will bring that extra special personal touch to your home. Either way, a little something new will inspire fresh vibes.
Spending time cleaning your place is a great way to express love. Show some tender loving care to a section that you’ve overlooked. Tidy up the drawer next to your bed or polish up your living room mirror – shine a little light on a part of your abode that could use some love and enjoy the sparkle!
Nature Soothes the Soul.
Introduce tranquility with all-things Mother Earth: potted plants, shells, rocks, wood – or perhaps the lovely sounds of a water fountain. Most any of the elements of nature will inspire joy and calm in your living space.
Dress It Up.
A unique lamp, a new piece of art, a fun refrigerator magnet – fresh additions, small or big, bring your own personal style and signature to your home. Join us on one of our shopping trips Mondays and Wednesdays and see what catches your eye! Items that make you happy reflect those good feelings back at you. [smiley face emoji]
Fill It with Friends and Family.
Make new memories in your home by inviting over those closest to you, perhaps sipping tea, enjoying each other’s company, sharing stories, catching up. The wonderful energy that only comes with being with dear ones will infuse your space with love.
Slow Down … Embrace Your Space.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, sit down and soak it all in. There’s great healing beauty in sitting still with ourselves in our own space and being grateful, truly embracing the moment, and feeling the love. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Erna Brown started life in Paso Robles, California, a place known for miles of almond trees and county fairs. “It was a small town then and a wonderful place to grow up,” says Erna. She remembers farmland everywhere, perfect for hiking and biking.
Her life changed in 1954 when she was working as a dental assistant and started talking with one of the patients, Jim Brown. He was from out of town, an oil geologist working for Mobil Oil, and he asked her to a square dance. “We sort of clicked and he was funny,” says Erna. After dating 6 months, Jim asked her to marry him but warned that with his profession, they would move a lot. Luckily, Erna was ready for adventure. After all, adventure is in Erna’s blood.
Her family background is Russian Mennonite, farmers who originated in Germany but migrated to Russia at the invitation of Catherine the Great. Over the generations the farmland was shrinking, and Erna’s father Otto decided his future was in America, first in Kansas and then Paso Robles. Erna’s mother Marie was 20 years Otto’s junior and his friend’s daughter. Together they had Erna and her brother Otto, who both spoke German until they started school.
Jim kept his promise about being on the move. Over the years, they lived in Colorado, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Nevada, often moving within the state or back to California a few times in between. Along the way they had two daughters – Susan, who is now a photographer and Catherine, a graphic designer.
As the girls got older, Erna and Jim decided to settle down. They moved back to California and Jim worked for the Metropolitan Water District checking on digs and going down tunnels, which worried Erna. She smiles as she describes Jim as a very caring person who did not like office work. For travel, they visited numerous National Parks. That love of the outdoors transferred to their children and grandchildren, including her granddaughter who works for Lassen National Park, and her grandson who works for a non-profit in water quality for Golden Gate National Park.
In 1989, Erna and Jim retired to Lompoc, California and enjoyed hiking and being active in their church. Over the years, Erna volunteered with several charities, including the Alpha Club and P.E.O. After Jim passed away in 2009, Erna moved to be close to her daughter in San Mateo. Later, after a health scare, both daughters convinced her to move to senior housing.
Erna first moved to a different care facility but almost immediately discovered problems. “I didn’t like the people. There was no privacy. People would just come into your room,” says Erna. “I didn’t know how to tell my daughter and her husband, who had gone to a lot of trouble to move me.”
Luckily, her daughter had driven by Sterling Court and told Erna about it. They came for a visit and Erna liked it. “The people are really friendly.” Erna also enjoys the Sterling Court trips and has visited the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa and the Cliff House in San Francisco.
When Erna wants to relax, she does crossword puzzles and reads mystery novels in her apartment, which feels especially bright, cozy, and welcoming. And this is no surprise. All those moves across the country gave her lots of practice creating lovely places to call home.
Tiding (noun): a piece of news.
– Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Let’s face it, when it comes to the barrage of unpredictable news – aka tidings – we’ve endured in 2019, these past 12 months could be called “The Trampoline of 2019”! So in this article let’s ring in the New Year with calm, hope, and a positive outlook. What better way to do that than to look to those who’ve said it best throughout history, to the leaders, visionaries, and artists who have expressed their hearts in the best of times, in the worst of times (to tip a not-so-elegant hat to one of literature’s best, Charles Dickens, in A Tale of Two Cities 😉). Here are 20 quotes for 2020 from a variety of powerful voices – past and present – we hope will spread some joy and inspiration upon us all. Happy New Year and … “Good-Tidings-a-Plenty in 2020!”
Molly and Charlie McCrory have the perfect “How we met” story. Even though they both went to college in Ohio and knew a lot of the same people, it wasn’t until a couple of years later when they were in the same elevator on Sansome Street in San Francisco that they officially met. They got on at the top floor and talked the whole way down. When they reached the ground floor Charlie went to take Molly’s arm but got only sweater. Holding her empty sleeve he said, “You need something to eat!” and took her to a coffee shop. The result of that chance meeting is three lovely daughters, six wonderful grandchildren, and a treasured great-grandchild who soon turns one-year-old.
The ways Molly and Charlie each got to San Francisco are very different stories.
After college, Molly became a teacher and spent the first summer traveling Europe with friends. The second year, she bought a ’47 Plymouth and with $80 in her pocket, hit the road for San Francisco. When she arrived, she taught school and lived on Pacific Avenue with a group of girls. During summer vacations, she worked office jobs.
The Korean War was on, so Charlie joined the Navy and served two years as the anti-submarine officer on a destroyer called the “USS Taussig.” When he got out of the service, he started law school and had a host of jobs to pay for schooling, including working as a steel rigger carrying a bucket of bolts across I-beams up 8-stories high, maintaining track on the railroad, and serving as a private investigator.
Once they married, Charlie began his legal career and just 3 years later started his own legal firm and Molly was his secretary. He even argued and won a case in front of the Supreme Court! They raised their daughters in Atherton and the family traveled extensively.
In 1999, Molly and two others started a non-profit called “Yes Reading,” where they tutored elementary school children who struggled with reading. What started with 25 students, is now called “Reading Partners” and last year served over 11,000 students across the country. Molly still tutors high schoolers locally.
Charlie organized “Camp T” where every summer he would take his grandsons on adventure weeks that included rock climbing, camping out, or a horseback riding. “Camp T was the joy of Charlie’s life,” said Molly.
Charlie had also been investing in real estate, both local and in Texas, so once he retired from the law, the couple moved to Dallas. They had seven great years there both working and playing a lot of tennis. Molly still plays tennis twice a week!
They returned to California in 2008 and lived in Menlo Park. Earlier this year, when they began looking for their next home, Molly saw a newspaper ad for Sterling Court. On their first visit, Charlie said, “I think I’m home!” He was impressed with the architecture, high ceilings, and the gardens. Molly was struck by how nice and civil everyone is to each other.
They are both enthusiastic about Sterling Court’s menu! “The chef is from France and the food is really special,” said Charlie. “It’s fresh, beautifully prepared, delicious, and a good variety.” Molly said that it’s also well-balanced and nutritious. Charlie is a big fan of Bella who bakes the spectacular cakes, pies, and tortes. Fortunately, Charlie also enjoys visiting Sterling Court’s gym facilities every day! Best of all, Sterling Court is close to their family who visit and gather often for birthdays and holidays. “For us, family is everything!” said Molly. All told, that was a very lucky elevator ride!
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