The Gamble House Upstairs Downstairs Tour

Gamble House Pasadena: Upstairs Downstairs Tour

The Gamble House – Servants Kitchen

The Gamble House in Pasadena, California, is an outstanding example of American Arts and Crafts style architecture. The house and furnishings were designed by Charles and Henry Greene in 1908 for David and Mary Gamble of the Procter & Gamble Company. The house, which is a National Historic Landmark owned by the City of Pasadena and operated by the University of Southern California, is open for public tours.

Gamble House Pasadena: Upstairs & Downstairs Tour
The Gamble House – Servants Dining Porch

The architects worked closely with the Gambles in the design of the house, incorporating specific design elements to complement art pieces belonging to the family. Drawings for the house were completed in February 1908, and ground was broken in March. Ten months later, the house was essentially completed, the first pieces of custom furniture delivered, and the house became the home of David Gamble, his wife Mary, and two of their three sons: Sidney and Clarence. In addition, Mary’s sister, Julia Huggins, also lived with the family. By the summer of 1910, all of the custom-designed furniture was in place.

Gamble House Pasadena: Upstairs & Downstairs Tour
The Gamble House – Julia’s room

David and Mary lived in the house until their deaths in 1923 and 1929, respectively. Julia lived in the house until her death in 1943. Cecil Huggins Gamble and his wife Louise Gibbs Gamble lived in the house beginning in 1946 and briefly considered selling it. They soon changed their minds, however, when prospective buyers spoke of painting the interior teak and mahogany woodwork white! The Gambles realized the artistic importance of the house and it remained in the Gamble family until 1966, when it was deeded to the city of Pasadena in a joint agreement with the University of Southern California School of Architecture.

Gamble House Pasadena: Upstairs & Downstairs Tour
The Gamble House – Beautiful Light Fixture

The tour was gorgeous, and offered this rare and well-preserved peek into the lives of the servants. Though they only kept two, a maid and a cook, the Gambles were keen to take care of their employees as much as they in turn were taken care of. One cook, Ljuba Sirlla was was from Croatia and was with the family at least a decade. Judging from the letters of Mary Gamble, Ljuba was well loved. Mr. Gamble even signed her naturalization papers.

Gamble House Pasadena: Upstairs & Downstairs Tour
The Gamble House – Ljuba’s stove

Thursday, August 1 – Sunday, August 18, 2013
Tuesdays, 12:15 pm & 12:45 pm; Thursdays – Sundays, every half-hour from 11 am – 3 pm;
No tours on Mondays and Wednesdays.

$20 per person; free for children 12 and under
Advance purchase is not required but highly recommended as space is limited per tour and tours often sell out. It is suggested that tickets be purchased early to guarantee desired tour date and time. Tickets may be purchased either online or by phone with a Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Walk-ins also welcome when space is available.

Call 626-793-3334; or visit; or email

Gamble House Pasadena: Upstairs & Downstairs Tour
The Gamble House – Garden


Travel: United States Botanic Garden Conservatory (Washington DC)

United States Botanic Garden Conservatory

By the end of my first weekend in Washington DC, I was equal parts excited and nervous. Excited, because the metro subway system in Washington DC was easy to master and I was getting the confidence up to venture out on my own, further than I had traveled Friday the 15th, the day after my arrival. Nervous, because a cold front was swooping in and going to test my Southern California skin with its gray skies, chilled winds, on and of rain and daily high of 40 degrees. FORTY! That is 4.4 degrees Celcius! Not that it doesn’t drop to 40 in the L.A. winter, but at least the temperature has the decency to wait until midnight to do something so indecent.

United States Botanic Garden Conservatory

Thankfully, KD and her husband, Guille, had given me a great insiders tip over the weekend: Head out to the United States Botanic Garden Conservatory and enjoy some refreshing humidity among the beautiful, tropical gardens. Not only would I get to enjoy the bright colors of nature, but I would be able to get out of the house and do something without having to stress about being chilled to the bone. So, come Monday, I found the courage to bundle up, grab my camera and my SmartTap metro card, and head out.

United States Botanic Garden Conservatory

Thankfully, my friends live around the corner from the Orange & Blue lines, and signage at every Metro Station is very clear so I was only ever turned around when I had to go from one platform to another in stations with four lines. Getting to the Botanic Gardens from Capitol Hill SE was very direct, as it is off of the Federal Center SW station. It was just a matter of walking down two blocks and over another block as fast as humanly possible. I decided to cut through Bartholdi Park, where I caught glimpses of the Capitol Building through the evergreens and deciduous trees, and made a little friend (pictured above).

United States Botanic Garden Conservatory

There wasn’t too much going on in the park, so I moved on for greener, warmer, and decidedly more colorful views at the Conservatory. Constructed by Lord & Burnham (architect of the Capitol) in 1933, this historic greenhouse contains two courtyard gardens and 10 indoor garden rooms, totaling 28,944 square feet of growing space.

Here are some of my favorite shots:

Sanokku Orchid - United States Botanic Garden Conservatory

Aside: My grandmother grew orchids in her front yard, and while I never appreciated their draw, many other people did. Living in a cul-de-sac off a busy thoroughfare, my grandmother marveled at how common it became to find a car pulling alongside the curb and a perfect stranger(s) would come out, camera in hand, to snap photographs of her many orchids. They ranged from professional set-ups, tripods and all, to amateur point-and-shoot from orchid enthusiasts. She did not care one way or the other, so long as nobody picked them. Me, being the uncouth country girl I am, never thought orchids could compare to the simple beauty of the daisy, nor hold its own with the classic rose. Now, here I am trying to grab the best shot of these cosmopolitan flowers, and I cannot look upon an orchid without thinking of my grandmother.

Guzmania Marjan - United States Botanic Garden Conservatory

United States Botanic Garden Conservatory

Tillandsia Harrisii - United States Botanic Garden Conservatory

Coral Aloe - United States Botanic Garden Conservatory

Oriental Smile Orchid - United States Botanic Garden Conservatory

Powder Puff - United States Botanic Garden Conservatory

True story: When I saw the final shot, I nearly cried from joy. People, I in no way consider myself a visual artist, so when I manage to snap a photo like the one above, it makes me want to break into song and dance with strangers in the middle of the street – rain or no rain.

Pink Pentas - United States Botanic Garden Conservatory

United States Botanic Garden Conservatory

To view all of my photos, please visit my Washington DC photoset on Flickr!

United States Botanic Garden Conservatory
100 Maryland Ave SW
Washington, DC 20024

The Crawford Art Gallery – Cork City, Ireland

One of the joys of maturity is being able to enjoy and appreciate museums, specifically art museums, as I loathed them as a child. Whenever I travel I seek out a museum to go through, even if it’s an old standby to locals who haven’t gone since a mandatory school trip (hello, Franklin Institute of Philadelphia!). During our first visit to Ireland in 2010, Steffie and I managed to squeeze in visits to the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin) and Crawford Art Gallery (Cork), but photos weren’t taken except for the garden of IMMA. I remember being impressed with Crawford Art Gallery and made a point to return to it this time around, camera in hand.

Last blog post I told you about The Fish Hatch – and this the Crawford Art Gallery is where I headed to directly after lunch. An integral structure to Cork since its position as the Cork Custom’s House in 1724, then as the forerunner to University College Cork in 1800s, to its eventual reshaping as Crawford Art Gallery in 1979, the museum/gallery is a must-see for visitors to Cork City. Here are some highlights:

Marie Rouget - Harry Clarke
Marie Rouget by Harry Clarke

The Goddess Concordia - close up
The Goddess Concordia by Antonio Canova

Minerva - 1820, wood, John Hogan
Minerva – John Hogan, 1820

The Goose Girl - Edith Sommerville
The Goose Girl – Edith Sommerville

Old Cork Glass Claret Jug circa 1820
Old Cork Glass Claret Jug – 1820

Hibernia and Brian Boru - John Hogan
Hibernia by John Hogan

Straight As Lemons Meet Fish - Maud Cotter
Straight as Lemons Meet Fish by Maud Cotter

Woman in Bomb Blast - bronze, 1974
Woman in Bomb Blast by F.E. McWilliam, 1974

Unknown Sculpture - Crawford Art Gallery, Cork
Unknown Sculpture

The Piping Faun - Canova
The Piping Faun by Antonio Canova

View my entire Crawford Art Gallery Set on Flickr

My first trip to The Crawford Art Gallery had a fantastic video installation/documentary that stuck with me even to this day, but the modern exhibits going on this last time failed to capture my attention. I was instead drawn into the permanent collection, my love for sculpture really making my inner shutterbug go wild. What I enjoy most about The Crawford Art Gallery is that Irish artists are prominently featured and through their art I learn socio-economical, political and personal history. That, and the museum is 100% free to the public!

Crawford Art Gallery
Emmet Place
T +353 (0)21 490 7852
Monday-Wednesday: 10:00-17:00
Thursday: 10:00-20:00
Friday-Saturday: 10:00-17:00
Sunday: Closed
Admission: Free

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Our first adventure at Balboa Park found mom, Steffie and I at the Natural History Museum. However, Balboa Park has eleven museums on its grounds, and once my train-enthusiast mother and I found out about the Model Railroad Museum we knew we would be making a return visit the next day. Located in the lower level of Casa de Balboa on the Prado, this non-profit corporation has seen close to three million visitors since it opened thirty years ago. With 27,000 square feet, SDMRM is one of the largest model railroad museums in the entire world and focuses on miniature representations of California railroads. Volunteers are constantly building, restoring and expanding the displays. It is a very impressive feat and my mom and I were instantly transformed into small, bright-eyed kids marveling at the numerous displays. We were definitely the only grown-ups without kids on the day we visited!
Here are some pictures from our visit:

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Through the Canyon - San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Crash! San Diego Model Railroad Museum

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Sledding - San Diego Model Railroad Museum

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Around the Bend - San Diego Model Railroad Museum

– They have a special room designated for hosting birthday parties.
– There is a Toy Train Gallery 3-rail live cam on the homepage of the website.
– Admission: $8 (adults) $6 (seniors) $4 (military w/ ID) $3 (students w/ ID) Kids 14 and under are free
– Remember to bring your shiny pennies and two quarters to get a commemorative smashed penny!
– Memberships are available at different price brackets. Lots of bonus points for being a member, the most obvious (and rewarding) being that you keep the museum chugging along!

San Diego Model Railroad Museum
1649 El Prado Suite 4
San Diego, CA 92101

Tuesday-Friday 11am-4pm
Saturday-Sunday 11am-5pm

San Diego Natural History Museum


On the day my mother came down to Coronado Island to join Steffie Love and I, the three of us decided to not waste daylight and go have an adventure. After a walk on the beach (a mere block from our lodging) we hopped in the car and drove the six miles to the gem of San Diego – Balboa Park. I had visited here once before for a photoshoot and remembered the breathtaking beauty of this place. However, I had no idea that the park contains eleven museums! We wound up shelving our plans to scope out gardens in favor of paying a visit to The Natural History Museum. We soon learned that the Botanical Gardens building was closed that day anyway.

There was a lot of buzz going on that day because of the current big exhibit going on – Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition commemorating 100 years since the Titanic’s fatal maiden voyage. It costs extra to go but we were up for it. Though I couldn’t take any pictures of the exhibition, I assure you – it was worth the extra money. Upon entering the exhibit, patrons were given a replica passenger boarding pass with a real Titanic passenger and details such as the class they traveled in, where they were from, where they boarded the Titanic, who they were traveling with, their age and any other little details history was able to give us. At the conclusion of the exhibit there is a board that names everyone on the Titanic – divvied up in 1st, 2nd and 3rd classes and crew and separated into subgroups “Survived” and “Deceased” or Unaccounted For. My passenger, a 17 year old Spanish bride traveling in first class, survived. Her husband did not. It was a very informational as well as gut-wrenching exhibit.

Here are photos from the other exhibits we visited – SKULLS and All that Glitters.

Common Raven Skull
Common Raven Skull

African Lion Skull
African Lion Skull

Southern Cassowary Skull
Southern Cassowary Skull

Flat-tailed horned lizard skull
Flat-tailed horned lizard skull

Butterfly Brooch
Benitoite Butterfly Brooch

Edwardian Necklace

cullinan blue diamond necklace
Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace


Don’t forget the the Giant-Screen Theater with multiple shows daily. You can see what’s currently on exhibit and various events on their calendar.

San Diego Natural History Museum
1788 El Prado, Balboa Park
San Diego, CA 92101

Hours: 10am-5pm daily

Museum: Spadina House – Toronto

I wanted to partake in some official Toronto garden excursion while I was visiting, and Spadina House caught my attention over its more infamous neighbor, Casa Loma, for its picture perfect early twentieth century preservation. This is a true manor home that was once lived in by the influential Austin family and the house is currently tricked out to reflect the inter-war years of the 1920s-1930s. In other words, this has RACHAEL MUST VISIT written all over it.

Spice and I arrived a little early for the next tour, so we walked around the grounds in the backyard.

Spadina House Hot House
Hot House

Spadina House Gardens
Spadina House Gardens

We were lucky enough to come on a slow enough day that our tour was just the two of us – so we had the tour guide all to ourselves!

Billiards Room

Garden Room
Garden Room

The Den
The Den

Angel Nouveau
Art Nouveau Angel


Formal Dining Room - Spadina House
Formal Dining Room

Scenic Lampshade

Boudoir for the lady of the house

Lady's Sitting Room
Lady Austin’s Sitting Room

Art Nouveau Vase
Art Nouveau Vase

My little friend I met while leaving Spadina House:

My friend Chip
I’ll call him Chip.

All tour information including hours of operation, maps, TTC directions, info and ticket pricing are at the official City of Toronto: Spadina House.

North Gallery – Parkdale, Toronto, Canada

Toronto city is full of art. Art is EVERYWHERE. It’s on the streets, it’s on the sides of buildings, sidewalks and of course, in galleries. The bigger galleries, while tempting to visit, are costly. Smaller galleries around Parkdale, where I was staying with friends, are typically free or ask for a modest donation of your choosing. They offer the works of young and/or not-as-widely-known artists. Such a gallery is North Gallery, which at the time of my visit, was featuring the work of high school students at a local arts academy. Here is some of their work.

Conventions of language – Claude Watson, Cindy Huang

Anatomical Studies
Anatomical Studies – grade 12

Watercolored Cards
Water Color Cards (grade 10, artist name unknown)

Jar Observances (Kristin Xie, grade 10)

Water Color Lego
Water Color Lego

Product Painting – grade 11

I would love to give you the address for this gallery, however, all Google searches for it have turned up fail. Either I copied the name down incorrectly, it’s been renamed/closed, or it was a smaller gallery attached to a bigger gallery/store that I did not pay attention to. Either way, it’s on Queen Street West before the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. Near Poutini’s House of Poutine.