Monday, March 30, 2009

Once Upon a Time in Laredo

...excerpted from National Geographic.

They're having a ball in this South Texas town. But as the border between the U.S. and Mexico tightens, life will never be the same.

The Society of Martha Washington Pageant and Ball in Laredo, Texas began in 1898 as a simple celebration of George Washington's birthday, meant to infuse the border town's largely Mexican population with American patriotism. It has evolved into a month-long celebration with dozens of events.

In a highly political and fierce competition, those few chosen debutantes, perfect as porcelain dolls, and their escorts are presented to 1,500 paying guests at the Laredo Civic Center, in a ritual designed to preserve the established social order. Those chosen are expected to take on the expense of their own gowns, averaging $38,000.

The Society of Martha Washington, sponsor of the gala, urges debutantes to select a platonic partner; the ones chosen are usually the sons of society members.

It would be easy to make fun of Laredo and its pageant. In these days of war, famine, global warming, and the ever growing divide between rich and poor, an elaborate tribute to Martha Washington by debs wearing gowns that weigh 85 pounds and cost in the neighborhood of $30,000 is something of an easy target. Recently, however, change has come to the region—in the form of drug violence across the border and, emanating from Washington, battles over immigration—threatening a way of life that has persisted here since the first Spanish settlers arrived in the 1700s. This year, despite the jeweled gowns and effusive abrazos at the celebration, it was natural to wonder whether Laredo's oldest families were honoring the past or clinging to it. And that didn't seem funny at all.

I find this entire event remarkable and fascinating, somewhat amusing, and very beautiful. Read more about it at National Geographic - and look at more pictures of the participants by clicking on the gallery link at the top of the page.

When I was a teen, we had a yearly event in our town (I grew up in Bucks County, PA) which was a very democratic sort of debutante ball. It was a large formal affair and called the Bucks County Cotillion. We would be forced (if you were a guy you were forced LOL) into a tuxedo and had to escort (and present) a girl who was assigned to you. Probably the girls weren't forced into their gowns - I'm pretty sure they loved it. Though I'm also fairly certain that none of the girls' gowns were hand-beaded and jewel encrusted $38k gowns! I call it more democratic because you weren't selected by jury who poured over your parents' position, lineage, and social status. You were selected because your parents forced you to take ballroom dancing and etiquette lessons for two years. Believe it or not, almost everybody back then participated!

They no longer have the Bucks County Cotillion. I don't know when exactly it ended. I know that it was in a bizarre transition period when I participated as a teenager (that was the late '60's). They could make us wear these silly suits; they could make us learn the box step, the waltz, and the cha-cha; they could make us hold chairs and open doors for the girls; they could not make us cut our hair or stop saying "groovy!" Looking back, I realize what a disreputable bunch we must have looked! - and really we were all respectable middle class kids!

Okay, GO MAKE SOMETHING - or I'll get you! and your little dog, too!
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´♥ Tristan ♥

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Feeling a Bit Royal This Evening?

It's been a while since I posted about something simply because it's awesome beauty and astounding craftsmanship is both inspirational and just plain ol' down home fun!

So, if you're ready, let's take a tour. If you're not familiar with Colleen Moore and her nothing-short-of-incredible miniature fairy castle, get ready! This thing just totally knocks me out!

This elaborate miniature house was created by silent film star Colleen Moore in the 1930s, and was donated to the Museum of Science and Industry in 1949.

It will delight you with its tiny treasures—including murals and paintings painted by Walt Disney himself; chandeliers adorned with real diamonds, emeralds and pearls; the tiniest bible ever to be written, dating back to 1840; and ancient statues more than 2,000 years old.

We will start in the kitchen. Over the door are the 3 Little Pigs, and to the right, Jack and Jill tumbling down the hill. The copper stove in the back of the room is the stove in which the wicked witch locked Hansel and Gretel.

The set of china on the table has the Queen of England's crest on it. This is Royal Doulton china, and two sets were made, one for the Queen of England's doll house, and the other for Colleen's fairy castle.

The next room is the dining room with King Arthur's round table in the center. Beside the gold plates are wee knives and forks, also of gold. The glasses are crystal and most of them are over a hundred years old. The tapestries on the wall, which are needlepoint made in Vienna, are arguably the smallest stitches that have ever been stitched. You can barely see them, even under a magnifying glass.

In Cinderella's Drawing Room, the floor was made in China years ago and is of rose quartz and jade. The chandelier hanging in the center of the room is gold, hung with real diamonds and emeralds and pearls. To the left you can see a little chess table just waiting for the wee folk to come and play. The painting on the wall is of Cinderella. The vases at each side of the door going into the great hall, are made of carved amber over 500 years old. They came from the collection of the Dowager Empress of China.

The floating staircase in the center of the room has no railings because fairy folk balance themselves with their wings. The ceiling of this Great Hall is painted in scenes from the Grimm's and Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales. Over the door, at the back of the room, is the pied Piper of Hamlin with the children climbing up the wall to get to him. The knights in armor, at each side of the door, are silver and came from the collection of Rudolph Valentino. The tall glass windows at the rear are etched in fairy tales: Jack and the Beanstalk, The Princess and the 7 Swans, and Prince Charming.

In the roped-off sections are treasures of Fairyland. To the left and on that low rosewood table are Cinderella's glass slippers. They are hollow with high heels and have tiny red glass bows. These are the tiniest little glass slippers that have ever been made. Next, are the silver skates belonging, of course, to Hans Brinker. And under that glass bell the tiny chairs of the 3 Bears sit on the heads of pins, the largest weighing only 150,000th of an ounce. There are many things in the Great Hall which are very old. For example, you can see to the left, way back in the room, on a green pedestal, a statue; a bust of a woman. This is Roman and about 2,500 years old. Next to this, on that table, are 4 art objects; 3 are statues of the Goddess Isis, and are over 4,000 years old. The 4th, a Syrian vase, over 1,000 years old.

To your right behind the ropes, is a Battersea enameled table, and on it sits a nest filled with golden eggs, and beside it a goose. These, of course, were stolen from the Giant by Jack. On the next table is a small pistol. It actually shoots. At the foot of the stairs you see two jars, one a 3,000 year old alabaster jar from Egypt, used by ancient Egyptian ladies to keep their mascara. The other is a glazed porcelain jar from ancient Siam and is over 1,000 years old.

As you go around the corner, stop and look through the clear glass in the center of the chapel window. You will see the altar, and on this altar is a little tabernacle. On top of the tabernacle you will see a beautiful golden sunburst. In the center is a glass container holding a sliver of the true cross. This was given to Ms. Moore by her friend, Clare Booth Luce, when she was the Ambassador to Italy and had her first audience with the Pope. He gave this to her, and she gave it to Colleen to put in the chapel of the Fairy Castle.

We now stand in front of the chapel. Be very quiet and you can hear the music. It's coming from that little organ. To the right of the organ is the vigil light. In the top is a very large diamond. This was Colleen Moore’s mother's engagement ring, and when she died, she left it to the collector to put in the doll's house. So the vigil light is in memory of Ms. Moore’s mother.

The silver throne you see is a copy of the famous English throne in Westminster Abbey. The statue on the pedestal to the right, near the front, is a bust of Pope Pius IX, and on the bottom is the seal of the Vatican. On the prayer bench in front of the altar is a small Bible printed in 1840. It is the smallest bible in the world, and is printed from real type. On the prayer bench is a small book depicting the lives of the saints. This was done in woodcuts.

The library is done in a sea motif. Over the fireplace stands Captain Kidd with his treasure behind him. The door to the right shows Robinson Crusoe and his man Friday. Above the other door is Gulliver, pulling the Lilliputian ships through the gates of the city. The furniture has a sea motif and is verdigris copper. Seahorses and seasnails hold the shell-like furniture. This furniture is made for fairy folk who like to read in different positions. That chair turned up in front is made for a little elf who likes to read with his feet in the air.

The books are all real. There are over 100 and many hand written by some of our most prominent modern authors. These are first and only editions. On the reading stand is a dictionary. This was given to Ms. Moore by her father when she was only 5 years old, and that is what started her whole collection. There are many other printed books in the library, many of them over 150 years old. For a peek at one of the actual books, click here.

Now let us go to the upstairs of the castle. Here in the Princess' Bathroom, the crystal walls are etched to tell the story of Undine. The tub is made of silver, and real water flows from the dolphin's mouths.

The bed is the one that Sleeping Beauty slept in. The bedspread is the gold spider web that covered her for 100 years. The chairs are platinum and set with real diamonds and emeralds. The floor is made of mother of pearl.

This is the bathroom of the prince. It is made of alabaster. The mirror over the shell-like wash basin is gold set with a sapphire surrounded by diamonds. The gold Japanese chest is about 500 years old.

Next to the bath is the bedroom of the prince. This tells the story of the Russian Little Czar, Saltur. The story is carved in the furniture. The polar bear, of course, was shot by the prince. It's really an ermine skin, with a mouse's teeth. The sword standing by the wardrobe is Excalibur, King Arthur's sword.

Now if we look up in the roof of the doll house and there we see the attic. This is filled with all the things that were left over from the different rooms that belonged to the ancestors of the prince and the princess.

As you go around the corner, you will see the magic garden. Look for the weeping willow tree standing by the pool. It's the only weeping willow tree in the world that lives up to its name. Look closely and you will see it is crying real tears, which fall into the pool. Then notice that cradle that sits on the rocking tree. It is made of gold and pearls, and, of course, is the Rock-A-Bye Baby cradle. Above the three arches are represented the stories from Aesop's Fables.

To the left on the wall of the garden, in bas-relief, is the story of the Wizard of Oz. Over the arched doorway, going into the Great Hall, is Aladdin with a genie coming out of his lamp, and Aladdin's servant. The silver coach, well, of course you know that it is waiting for Cinderella to take her to the ball.

Painted on the balcony is the story of Don Quixote, and if you'll look in the sky you'll see Santa Claus' reindeer pulling his sleigh, because, of course, in Fairyland every day is Christmas.

I hope you've had a good time. And it was a great pleasure taking you on a tour of Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle.

I hope you've been entertained and YOU go make something exquisite!

¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´♥ Tristan ♥

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's Beverly's Pink Saturday!

Okay. I knew it was time for Beverly's Pink Saturday ... and, though I knew I had to come up with a pink post, my mind was a complete and total pink blank.
Now, I know I could have just found more wonderful items that are available in pink - such as this Rolls Royce (which, by the way, I would be more than happy to accept if somebody felt the need to ... well, you know...)
But, then I ran across this wonderful little advertising gimmick that a smart artisan came up with! And the item isn't pink, but the background is totally pink, so I decide it would be up to the standards set for Beverly's Pink Saturday.

The advertisement/gift is wrapped in pink paper with a very clear indication of what the recipient should do: open.
Inside is a walnut - with an incredible hinge created with embroidery floss and more patience than I ever hope to have.
When the nutshell is opened, inside is a tiny book entitled "Gratitude (in a nutshell)."
Okay - isn't that cool?! You can read the way it's constructed here. It obviously is a labor of love ... and I would never have the where-with-all to make enough of them to use as advertisements for clients. But, as a special gift?! I think it's pretty nutty - er - nifty!
One final pink gift of the day (I know, this is the shortest Pink Saturday post I've ever done!) for those of you who feel the need to find the perfect accessory. Apparently this has been created so you can look cute-as-the-dickens and kill terrorists at the same time! Functional accessories will always be in!
After you've checked out all the other wonderful Pink Saturday posts, go make something beautiful!
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´♥ Tristan ♥

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Flea Market Friday Offerings ...

This week I have two offerings for Flea Market Friday. First, this lovely Marie Antoinette wallhanging. It's approximately 5"x7" not including the bottom fringe nor the hanging cord. It has several pretty fabrics, an appliqued flower and 'toinette painting, silk flowers, silk ribbon and seam bindings, rhinestones and glitter, and enough exquisite trimmings and fringes to make Marie approve! There are two pockets which are just the right size for a love note - or to hide that special chocolate no one else is allowed to have!
The price is Sold, shipping included within the continental United States. This is not listed in my Etsy shop, so if you're interested, please contact me at and I'll set up a private listing for you.
My other offering this week is a 66" square quilt top featuring fabrics with images from the 1939 film version of Wizard of Oz. Isn't this the perfect thing to snuggle up with while watching everybody's favorite children's movie?! Note that this is a quilt top only.
This photo shows the fabrics more clearly - there are several scenes from the film featuring Dorothy, Glinda, the Wicked Witch and the Munchkins; the ruby slippes on yellow background; the Yellow Brick Road; Glinda's wand on a red background; Glinda's pink glittery dress and blue gingham from Dorothy's dress. The borders have Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Lion and the Tin Man scattered on a Yellow Brick Road background.
The price for this quilt top is $130. It is not listed in my Etsy shop, so if you are interested, please contact me at and I will set up a special reserve listing for you.

Thanks for browsing at my Flea Market Friday offerings! ... and remember, after perusing the other goodies being offered, go make something fabulous today!

¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´♥ Tristan ♥

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I've been absent for a couple days ...

so, you'll have to forgive me if this post gets a tad rambling. I mean, my posts lean towards the rambling anyway, so this one will probably exceed the normal ramble. (See what I mean?)

Okay, Spring has baaaaaaarely made it into New England. I did snap a couple of photos of my little condo garden as things are beginning to poke their little heads up through the earth. Unless you're a green thumber, you probably won't recognize these little merlot coloured shoots. It is the very very beginning of what will become my four foot Bleeding Hearts bush by June. Bleeding Hearts and Lilies of the Valley are two of my absolute favorite old-fashion garden flowers - and I'm always amazed that this Bleeding Hearts get so remarkably large! We actually have to prune it back from the sidewalk like a shrub! The other images are other goodies starting to poke up and bloom - and far more recognizable! Are you impressed that I actually got down on my knees in the mud and took a from-the-ground view of the Snowdrops so that they looked redwood forest height?

I had to snap this sign in the grocery ... I am titling it "Sign of the Times" and sending it to Jay Leno for his outrageous ads segment. Notice anything bizarre - and so sad - about this sign? Forgive the bad quality - phone camera, you know!
So. What have I been up to the past couple days? I cut and assembled this Wizard of the Oz quilt top. It's about 66" square - and not quilted yet. I think I'll put it on Flea Market Friday as it is, and then if it's not sold, put it in my Etsy shop after it's quilted and bound. The fabrics are all quite nice and cheerful and it was fun to put together. A few friends dropped in and saw me working on it and were rather astounded that I was making something so - well - normal. I have to admit, it's unusual for me to make something so traditional. But I wanted to add some more traditional works into my Etsy shop, and, really!, what is more traditional than The Wizard of Oz?!
These next photos are just for us paper arts folk. This is a remarkable piece circa 1870-1880. It's a 19th century lithographed paper farm house with landscape detailing under glass with a wooden frame. The whole thing is only 8" high x 9" deep x 12" wide. That's really small for so much detail. I found it at the 1st Dibs Saturday Sale that is held every week. To purchase this rare beauty for a mere $450! (I think it's a pretty good price, actually) just click here. That will take you to the website; on the right side, click on "Saturday Sale." This listing is about 3/4 of the way down on the first page.

I just love love love this little mirror pond in the side yard!
Now, if you haven't seen this video yet, take a moment to watch it. It's got information that is astounding, awesome, frightening, humbling and jaw-dropping. As an American, I feel a great sense of loss...though I'm not sure why. Even though I've always espoused the need to be one village and one world to truly prosper, I've always thought it from the position of being the #1 nation in the world. The view from here is quite different...even though I believe the same way, of course.

And, finally, we all know that movie stars and models keep getting put in stranger and stranger locales for photo shoots. This photo set up is decidedly quirky. If you know the model and the situation being shot, leave your answer below. There will be a little prize for the first correct answer! (and I do mean little!) If it will help you, click on the picture for a larger image.
Now - go make something beautiful!

¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´♥ Tristan ♥

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Well, gang - what time is it? That's right! It's time for...

It's Saturday again! So get out your pink Nikes - or spiked heels, if that's your style - and let's go on a tour of all that's pink! Or, at the least ... some of it.

Now, first things first. Before we even start on our journey to the Bloggerland of Pink, you really must take a moment to listen to Kay Thompson explain what Pink Saturday is all about.
for some reason, when I embed the video, my blog page goes all wonky. So, I have to apologize. To hear Kay expound on the brilliance of all things pink, you'll have to go here:

Now that you're in the mood. Sit right down here next to la Liz (in all her pink splendor) and we'll start the tour of the day.

and remember...

So, first stop of the day ... Betsy Johnson's home. Now here is a woman who knows how to use pink! Sometimes (actually, most often) I find homes drenched in pink to resemble an accident with Pepto Bismol. But I think this is one stunning atelier! I really love the pops of black and chartreuse ... and that glass brick wall really blings the whole place up, doesn't it?

As long as we're visiting designers - get a load of this gown by Galliano for Christian Dior. Isn't it an awesome achievement of fabric craftsmanship? It reminds me of some of the extravagant concoctions in the new Marie magazine from Somerset Studio ... but this one is for real! I hope some spoiled rotten girl in Beverly Hills wears this to the prom. Just to cause a scene.

Ooooh! Look who just showed up, all razzle dazzled out in pink for Beverly's Pink Saturday, and is going to join us for the rest of our tour! Yes, indeed!, it's Carmen!

Well, the first thing I believe is going to knock off Ms. Miranda's shoes (okay, bad pun) is this pair of pink shoes by Christian Louboutin. I think they truly show the depth of insanity this designer exists in ... and it's a place that would be so swell to live! If you have never seen his website, you really should take the time to click here.

Even though most of today's pink offerings are contemporary (hey! no cracks about la Liz!), this special boudoir really needed to be included...I think this is where Liz and Carmen checked their make-up before starting our little tour today.

Oh! I'm so glad that we could pick this up along the way, so we'll have music to accompany us.

And, just in case you get tired, feel free to hop on for a ride...

Oh, no! Not another tour participant! Well, if she slaps me, she's gonna be seeing stars, and they won't be pink!

Well, let's take a walk in a special garden that I'm just positive la Liz, Carmen and Zsa Zsa are gong to love as much as I do! Is this the result of a gardener with a pink thumb?

ah oh. I think the Pink Flamingo garden was too much for the ladies...they seem to be hitting the

I guess they're getting worn out from this lengthy tour. I suppose I should wrap it up - I must remember that even though they're looking fab and in the pink, these ladies aren't exactly spring chickens any more - they must be tired. I'll just leave you with one more mosaic of pink goodies for this week.

So, now you must go to Beverly's Pink Saturday and see all the other cool stuff that is being offered by those participating! Have a terrific day ... and, hopefully, after completely overdosing on pink splendors, you'll still have time to make something fabulous today - maybe in pink!(?)

¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´♥ Tristan ♥