The Rich Life On a Budget

Montecristi Panama Hats of Napa Valley Photo Shoot

It’s hard to believe, after all that’s happened recently, it was only days ago that my husband and I were at beautiful HALL Wines doing a photo shoot for our friends, Carolina and Mercedes of Montecristi Panama Hats of Napa Valley who are revamping their website.


HALL Wines is a stunningly beautiful property that features 35 pieces of contemporary art, a garden, a modern tasting room and this stately building used for events – all on 33 scenic acres.


We arrived in the morning before the winery opened to the public and went right to work getting ready for the shoot. We hung our clothes on racks while Mercedes unpacked dozens of hats from several containers, and photographer John Bedell set up his equipment with the assistance of fellow photographer Shannon Warf.


As a hat lover, this was a delightful and thrilling sight!


My husband, Bill and I weren’t the only hat models at the shoot. Christy Logan, a friend of John’s and Art Director for Napa Style, also agreed to put her fantastic style and model looks to work.

When Bill wasn’t being photographed, he was playing photographer. Thanks to him, I have lots of action photos to share with you today!


For one of my first sessions, I changed into my navy blue ABS dress and this beige and brown Lady Golf Hat. I do love navy and brown together.


I was immediately taken with this Gaby hat. It’s so feminine and versatile.


After another wardrobe change, I donned this beauty (not featured on the website yet).


I fell hard for this hat. It made me feel instantly more sophisticated and now it’s in my closet, a gift from Carolina and Mercedes. Thank you, ladies!


Christy brought an ideal photo shoot wardrobe and just happened to have the perfect outfit for her hat, a wide-brimmed straw hat with rusty orange and brown colored flowers.


We were given glasses of HALL Sauvignon Blanc to use as props while we posed and may have enjoyed a sip or two during this portion of the shoot.


You couldn’t blame us. HALL wine is pretty irresistible!


While I changed clothes again, Christy modeled a brown and ivory wide-brimmed hat.


John and Carolina checked the photos on John’s laptop between shoots to make sure they were getting the images they wanted.


And Mercedes takes care of business via cell phone.


Bill was busy, too, modeling this Classic Western hat.


With a quick wardrobe change, Bill was ready to model this Planter Classico hat.


As the day started heating up, John realized he needed a hat too!


One of the most eye-catching hats I modeled was this bright yellow wide-brimeed number with an interesting knotted embellishment.




We were lucky to have Shannon with us to help fix stray hairs and small wardrobe problems. Shannon is also an accomplished and very busy photographer herself.

Isn’t this Panama Extra Fino in white a stunner? I adore this hat.


The next two photos are part of the first small batch that John has finished editing. I was so excited to see these images. I love having photos of us together. I am thinking about getting these two framed. John did an amazing job!

In this photo, I am wearing the Cordovez Brown hat. Bill’s hat is not featured on the website yet.


Here, Bill is wearing my very favorite men’s hat, a Planter Double Roll in white. It’s his favorite, too. I am wearing a Lady Panama with a long brim.


Eight hours flew by! Before saying our goodbyes, Carolina took a parting photo of us with Shannon and John, who worked the hardest, by far!


I will be sure to let you know once the redesigned Montecristi Panama Hats website is up and running!

Until then, the current site has loads of hats to choose from.

Montecristi Panama Hats offers free shipping on orders going to U.S. addresses. Just enter “freeship” at checkout.

And if you don’t know your hat size, use these easy instructions to find out.

And a big “Thank You!” to Carolina and Mercedes for including us in your photo shoot!


A quick reminder: How I Wear My Sandals is coming up quickly!

How I Wear My Badge

If you’d like to be featured, be sure to submit your outfit photos to [email protected] by September 2nd.

Jill of Everything Just So and I can’t wait to see how you wear your sandals!

Make it a rich day!



Wine Country Quake

As you may have already heard, there was a Wine Country quake here in California this weekend. In the very early morning hours on Sunday, Bill and I awoke to our two Yorkies, who sleep with us nightly, frantically barking on our bed.

Jolted out of a deep sleep, we both tried to make sense of what was going on. It didn’t take long to realize we were having an earthquake and a big earthquake at that. It rocked our bed back and forth for a good 15 to 20 seconds. I remember clutching his arm in terror while he told me it would be okay, over and over again.

Finally the shaking, jarring and rolling stopped but my heart continued to race. My husband and I leapt out of bed to see what, if anything, had been damaged and to make sure the other dogs were okay.

Lots of kitchen drawers had been jerked open and there were assorted things on the floor of the pantry. Books had collapsed in their cases, framed photos were lying face down and a Scrabble game had emptied its contents onto the floor – all minor messes and the dogs seemed unfazed.

I immediately wondered where the epicenter was located. If it’s was far away, that meant this quake was probably “the big one” Bay Area residents, like me, have been worrying about for decades.

I did what many of my local friends did and went on Facebook. Immediately chatter about the quake began. It was some comfort knowing others had experienced what we had. Soon the media reported the information I and thousands of others wanted to know. The earthquake was centered in American Canyon, near Napa County, about 45 minutes from us. And it measured in at 6.1. That’s big but not “the big one”, thankfully.


After we calmed down and picked up the small messes around the house, we got into bed to go back to sleep. Yeah, right! With my heart and my mind both racing, I knew sleep would be unachievable, even though Bill and the girls seemed to have no problem nodding off.


At 4:00 a.m. his sleep was once again interrupted. Duty called and Bill, who is in the fire service, was dispatched to the city of Napa to help out. Fires erupted at two mobile home parks, destroying four homes. Highways buckled and wineries reported losses ranging from broken bottles to structural damages.

My friends at Montecristi Panama Hats in Yountville also suffered considerable damage.


A tall jewelry cabinet came crashing down creating quite a hazardous mess. They, along with their family and friends, spent the day cleaning up and they hope to reopen on Monday.


Bill was at the scene of some of the worst destruction. He took some photos to show me just how bad some of the damage is.


Older buildings in downtown did not fair well. Thankfully, no one was injured by falling rock. In fact, most who were hurt suffered non-life-threatening injuries and only three are critical.


I spent the day on edge. In the shower, my razor happened to fall off the shelf and I jumped as though an explosion had occurred. I’m not surprised by this reaction. Having been in the terrifying 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, I know that being tense and skittish are normal side-effects and can last for as long as several weeks after the incident. Frequent and dramatic aftershocks certainly don’t help matters, and neither do loud or sudden noises.  My plan is just to observe and understand that most people around here are experiencing the same thing. It will pass in time.

Looking to pry myself away from the news and social media, I asked Tori to go with me to our local farmers market. We picked up some beautiful produce then spent the afternoon and early evening in the kitchen, cooking away.


We made a vegetable soup, a cream of mushroom soup and Tori made a wonderfully comforting eggplant parmesan.  I opened a bottle of Grgich Hills Chardonnay from Napa Valley, of course, and rejoiced that my Wine Country friends are safe and sound. Even if some did suffer material damage, they weren’t physically harmed.


My husband was released from duty this evening and returned home. I’m looking forward to a peaceful and still night’s sleep tonight…with no aftershocks! My hope is that everyone impacted by the earthquake recovers quickly from this event.

Thank you to friends and readers who reached out to see how we were.

I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

I’d love to hear about your earthquake experiences.

Make it a rich day!