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News

Council seeks more options for community center

Council seeks more options for community center


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos City Council approved an appropriation to examine options for a new community center to replace the aging Hillview facility.

The Los Altos City Council last week voted narrowly in favor of examining further opti...

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Schools

Local schools participate in  national Hour of Code activities

Local schools participate in national Hour of Code activities


Ellie Van HOutte/Town Crier
Himan Shu Raj, a volunteer from Microsoft, advises Los Altos High ninth-graders, from left, Serhat Suzer, Jamie Bennett and Chris Yang as they participate in the school’s Hour of Code Showcase.

Local schools participa...

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Community

Take a dive into the holiday archive

Take a dive into the holiday archive

Town Crier staff made a quick cruise back through the newspaper's archives to find some late-December reading as inspiration for eating, drinking, decorating and more:

Beloved holiday books build the spirit of the season and staff at Los Altos’ Li...

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Sports

Pinewood poised for another title run

Pinewood poised for another title run


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Pinewood’s girls basketball team is receiving contributions from several new players, including freshman Stella Kailahi, above.

Complacency shouldn’t be a problem for the defending Division V state champion Pinewood S...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

Ticket motorists for U-turns on Main Street

As I was walking downtown on Main Street recently, something came to me out of the blue. The town of Los Altos is missing out on a huge revenue stream. I realized that if all the cars – there were th...

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Special Sections

Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead


s in line to be mayor of Mountain View in 2015.

Mountain View anticipates the following changes in 2015:

• Beginning Jan. 1, Mountain View City Councilmembers will receive a raise to $1,000 per month as a result of the passage of Measure A in...

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Business

Your 2015 stock market game plan

It’s been a maddening month because of oil and gas, especially in stocks and bonds. Then, consumer spending pushed stocks higher Thursday, easing investors’ jitters about the global economy and prompting them to consider how to invest in ...

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Books

Gawande's

Gawande's "Being Mortal" proves an important book on aging


Books about death and dying are usually not on my list of “must reads.”

I couldn’t resist, however, the best-selling “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” (Metropolitan Books, 2014) by Atul Gawande.

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People

SANGEETA SACHDEVA

SANGEETA SACHDEVA

Sangeeta Sachdeva, 55, wife of Subhash Sachdeva and mother to Natasha and Tanya, died at 8:54pm, Sunday, December 7, 2014 from respiratory failure.

Sangeeta was born on October 18, 1959 in Delhi, India. She was born to Moti Sagar and Raj Kapoor an...

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Travel

South Tahoe renovations enhance off-mountain seasonal fun

As any enthusiast knows well, there is more to the enjoyment of winter sports than skiing or snowboarding.

While many winter resorts make minor upgrades each season, the off-mountain attractions and amenities can be as enticing as the activities on ...

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Stepping Out

Aurora Singers to emit 'Musical Glow' Friday

Aurora Singers to emit 'Musical Glow' Friday


courtesy of Aurora Singers
The Aurora Singers are scheduled to perform a seasonal concert Friday night in Palo Alto.

The Aurora Singers’ “Winter’s Musical Glow” holiday concert is set for 7 p.m. Friday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pal...

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Spiritual Life

Enter the superhero: Finding the God who loves you

In my life-coaching practice, I see a lot of pain. Much of it stems from fear and guilt, often expressed as low self-esteem, anxiety, a lack of forgiveness both for oneself and others, anger – and so on.

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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Festive Filoli: Historic estate opens doors to celebrate holidays in style


Photos Ellie Van HOutte/Town Crier
Volunteers, above and below, trim the Christmas trees for Filoli’s “Holiday Traditions,” which opens Friday. Los Altos resident Margaret Ong, left, serves as chairwoman for the second year. The event features an array of decorations, bottom.

What takes thousands of hours and 700-plus volunteers nearly a year to produce?

Clue: It’s a much-anticipated holiday event that began 31 years ago when a prominent Woodside family opened its home to friends during the holidays.

The home is Filoli, a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The owners were Lurline and William Roth of Matson Lines. And the event is the nine-day “Holiday Traditions,” which begins Friday night with a gala premier shopping party.

To celebrate the holiday season, the Roths filled their home with orchid leis from Hawaii, candles and fir trees. They placed wreaths made of holly and evergreens from Filoli’s 16 acres of English Renaissance gardens in every window – not a simple undertaking considering that the house is 36,000 square feet. It is recognized as one of the finest remaining country estates of the 20th century.

The wow factor

No wonder it takes tons of time and talent to ready Filoli for the holiday event, which supports the estate’s preservation and stewardship.

In keeping with tradition, the house will be aglow with lights and festooned with greenery and flowers. The foyer will boast garlands of orchids, frosted foliage and icicles.

“We want it to wow people,” said Margaret Ong of Los Altos, chairwoman of the event for the second consecutive year. “And we want it to be surprising.”

Among the surprises are the changes from room to room – notably in the dining room – and the addition of a “flower corner” near the grand staircase, where visitors can create their own holiday arrangements.

“We’ll have supplies available as well as crafters and floral arrangers to offer advice,” Ong said.

The first floor of the stately house, the Filoli Cafe and the Visitors and Education Center are all lavishly decorated. However, the event is equally known for the surprising range of items for sale throughout the house.

Ong describes it as a giant boutique with “exceptional merchandise” selected by Filoli buyer Linda Fujimoto or created by Filoli volunteers. Fujimoto began her quest in January at the Atlanta gift show, followed by trips to shows in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

For the past four years, the event has had a woodland theme.

“We wanted something more elegant this year,” said Ong, who, along with Fujimoto, came up with the theme “Ice Fantasy.”

Think snow and ice and glitter and critters – namely polar bears, penguins, snowy owls, bunnies and white peacocks.

A postcard-like Christmas tree forest occupies one wall in the reception room, where the main attraction is a dazzling 16-foot tree.

Old-fashioned holiday decorations and traditional gift items can be found in the adjacent drawing room, known as the “Red Room” because of its decor.

The kitchen is now a farmers’ market, and the butler’s pantry and hallway sport a soda-fountain motif.

Expanding on the food theme, vendors with carts have set up shop in the dining room, replacing the elegantly appointed banquet table visitors have come to expect. Jerk’N Pickle, a favorite of the San Mateo Farmers’ Market, will be there, along with Buttercup Cakes of Santa Cruz, Carol Hall’s Hot Pepper Jelly Co. of Fort Bragg and Katie’s Candies of Chehalis, Wash.

“It was time to mix things up, and farmers’ markets are all the rage right now,” Fujimoto said.

There’ll even be Filoli products – seasonings, herbs, vinegars and teas – for sale at checkout in the Garden House.

Among other surprises are a French parfumerie, a men’s library and a shop (housed in the study) selling clothing, shoes and accessories. The latter even has fitting rooms.

Ong’s wow factor comes into play in the ballroom, where six 9-foot Christmas trees sparkle with lights and glitter, echoing the “Ice Fantasy” theme. Each is devoted to a snow creature – with the exception of two peacock trees. The ballroom is also the venue for performances by Bay Area choral and orchestral groups.

This is the eighth year Leslie Howard of Atherton has been chairwoman of the Ballroom Committee. In addition to overseeing the staging of merchandise, she decorates the trees.

“It takes me about a day to trim one and a half trees, but that’s after everything is unpacked,” she said.

Howard organizes the ornaments by size, putting the biggest ones on first – that is, after she chooses the tree topper. Then she tucks the smaller ornaments inside.

Hers is one of the 18 committees assembled by Ong, who has pretty much lived and breathed “Holiday Traditions” for two years. Prior to becoming chairwoman, she served on the Floral Design Committee.

“I was looking for floral classes when I discovered Filoli,” said Ong, who became hooked by Filoli itself and its many educational offerings.

To purchase “Holiday Traditions” tickets, call 364-8300, ext. 508, or visit filoli.org. Buffet lunches and evening bistro dining are available at select times during the week by advance reservation. In addition to the opening-night party, there are two children’s luncheon parties. Ticket prices vary according to event.

Easy holiday decorating tips

Filoli merchandise buyer Linda Fujimoto of Palo Alto shares ideas on how to make it feel like Christmas at home. She co-owned, with her twin Mary Schwarz, Twin Concepts, a popular Menlo Park boutique, for 14 years.

• Fill three to five glass jars with Christmas candy and place them in the kitchen – a tasty nod to the season.

• Arrange fresh greens in big pots around the house.

• Place collections of different-size candles to add a warm and festive touch.

• Make a statement by placing 10-12 battery-operated (or real) candles on a tray.

• Create your own snow globes by placing a miniature scene inside a big glass jar.

• Fill decorative glass containers with old-fashioned round glass ornaments.

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