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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Archive for February, 2011

“To Be or Not To Be Gorgeous? That is the question!”

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Charming Dorothy Lamour with Her Beautiful Long Brown Hair!

Please Note: This is a true story, but I have changed the names to protect the privacy of the people involved.

My friend Sara, who was almost 7 years old, was visiting and we were decorating our own fancy paper to write letters on…She loved to come over to my house to make holiday cards and write letters, bake cookies for people, and wrap presents…and do all manner of  girly things like try on hats from my collection, sample perfumes, make her own jewelry, learn to sew, and one of her favorites, of course, dress up and experiment with clothes and hairstyles.

She has very long brown wavy hair. She lives with her dad and he is not the best hairstylist! In fact, he was going to cut her pretty hair off just so he wouldn’t have to detangle it. My father did that to me when I was about her age and it nearly caused my mother to leave him. They had a terrible long fight. I was certainly traumatized by the experience, but that is another story. I have always identified the experience with being scalped!

To avoid such a mishap in this little girl’s life I offered to teach Sara to take care of her own hair. She should learn to do this and she should understand that it is beautiful and her own unique asset. I showed her pictures of Dorothy Lamour too, so that she could see how one lady had kept her long brown hair as her trademark over her entire life. Their hair is very similar.

Sara thought Dorothy Lamour was very glamorous! I think it is good to introduce little girls to appropriate role models. Dororthy Lamour is one of my personal favorites! Keep in mind, this is Lady Violette speaking, and I like classic vintage style, so I identify feminine beauty with the actresses in old black and white movies. Do you not agree with me that they are quintessentially more glamorous than Mily Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan?

Sometimes Sara spends a weekend at my house. If so, in the evening, we wash her hair, comb it out, part it down the middle and let it air dry in it’s natural wavy patterns. It is thick and about three feet long. Isn’t she lucky? While her hair is drying we do crafts or watch a movie. She generally picks out the movies. Her favorites are The Adams Family movies, especially The Adams Family Values, which I also think is hilarious. My favorite scene is the one in Morticia and Gomez’s Favorite Bistro when Angelica Houston burns up the floor dancing the tango. Morticia also has long beautiful dark hair!

Sara likes to go into my closet and pick out something to wear. I like to just stand back and watch to see what what happens. One of her typical selections was a long white cotton and lace Victorian Style nightgown, a set of two very long flapper necklaces hanging down the front, and a pair of vintage purple satin high heels that were treacherously high and too long. All in all, the effect was mesmerizing! Especially because she later fell asleep in this delightful ensemble while reading a book in a big armchair with her feet, in the violet ballroom dancing shoes, propped up on a giant overstuffed footstool! A version of Sleeping Beauty!

Sara’s father doesn’t like me. He is not really a friend of mine, she is my friend. I met her through an adult girlfriend whose husband knows her father. When I heard about the situation my girlfriend and I decided to help this little girl out. Her father is an investment specialist of some kind. Young and apparently successful financially. He seems very rushed and very wound up all the time.

Apparently he was married to her mother, but that didn’t work out and he ended up taking the daughter when she was a baby! He has raised her, but he lacks skills in The Feminine Arts! He doesn’t see this as a problem. When women are around his daughter, they do! She is not learning the basic skills women learn from other women which they need in order to survive and succeed in this world. Her dad pooh poohs these skills saying they are valueless and she doesn’t need them. He says, “I’m teaching her other things, she won’t need those!” He implies that he means that he will eventually be teaching her to play the stock market and manage real estate, and plan corporate take overs and other things like that.

When I met Sara, at age seven, she had not learned any of that yet! Nor could she have cared less. I asked her where her dad worked and what he did and she didn’t know! She had never gone to work with him or anything. My girlfriend and I asked him if she might spend a weekend with us sometime, hanging out, baking cookies and the like. He emphasized that she didn’t need to learn that kind of thing, but he thought that would be okay. The fact is, and we know it, he sees us as willing to “babysit” his daughter for free so he agreed to let her come. The first time I picked her up on a Friday afternoon for an overnight, I had to search him down to return her on Sunday night at 10PM! I had offered to have her over for one night, but he left her and disappeared for the entire weekend. He didn’t call to check in and he didn’t return my calls – until he was ready! This was okay because she was safe, and she was not any trouble, but it was not the arrangement. I was having her over for her sake, not to help him out with childcare. However, his behavior made the fact that she needed it all the more apparent. He had such a sense of entitlement! He just expected I would entertain his little girl and take good care of her until he decided to show up to reclaim her. He didn’t call to check on her and see if she was happy or wanted to come home! Shockingly, he expected me to pay for everything too. She came with no spending money and no overnight supplies, or clothes, no hairbrush, not even a toothbrush. She just arrived. Remember, she was just a seven year old.

She was in desperate need of attention. She had not had a bath or shower for at least 3 or 4 days. Her long hair was dirty and tangled, her dress was wrinkled and limp and she had been wearing the same shoes, socks and underwear all week. Her fingernails needed trimming and filing. She looked bedraggled. Like a little waif! But she was really excited! This was like going to heaven for her.

I got her to my house, suggested she take a shower and we wash her hair and made that a part of getting ready to bake for the evening. I said we needed to be really clean for the baking process. That worked. I could tell she felt much better afterward. She was shy and self-conscious earlier. I could see that she felt insecure about looking so bedraggled.

My grown up girl friend who had introduced us came over after work and we did end up baking cookies that night. That good wholesome old fashioned activity that totally grounds you! We had a blast! And there was nothing cuter that seeing seven year old Sara standing on a wooden kitchen step stool, with an apron on, mixing cookie dough and happy as can be. She was laughing and cracking jokes and turned out to be hilarious. This was the first time in her life that she had ever baked! No one had ever done it with her before. Now, in my book, that is child deprivation! She loved doing dishes too! She hadn’t ever done that either! Somebody she has never seen comes into their apartment and cleans when she is at school and her father is at work. Wow!

That weekend in addition to hair washing and styling, and baking, we also watched movies, including The Adams Family, Adams Family Values, and Les Miserables, which she loved. We did our nails, and tried on vintage  hats, and made homemade cards and stationary with rubber stamps. She had never done any of these things! She also accidentally spilled almost an entire bottle of Violetta de Parma eau de toilette all over herself not realizing you only need a tiny dab to smell good!

By Sunday afternoon,  Sara  had been with me almost 48 hours. We still had not heard from her father. He was a full day late in arranging to get her back and he hadn’t even called. She was not a bit worried. In fact, honestly,  she probably was happy about it! I, luckily, was able to hang out with her and had nothing else scheduled. We were crafting with rubber stamps and I suggested we make some of our home made greeting cards for some people we mutually knew – a couple of grownup women friends of mine who were aware of this little girl’s situation and would be appropriately delighted to receive a card she made. She was all for this idea and we mutually decided to put some of the cookies we had made in little bags for them as well! Everybody likes to receive a gift of homemade cookies, right? This project took us the rest of the afternoon…

We were drawing and writing on cards when, suddenly, Sara looked up at me and asked me, “How do you spell Gorgeous?”

And I spelled it out ” G_O_R_G_E_O_U_S” slowly and clearly.

Then as she finished writing it, she said, innocently, “I don’t know how to spell it, I just am it!”

And she was right! Next card please!

She diligently thought of people who might want them and made cards and packages of cookies for another four hours! I taught her how to tie several kinds of bows.

Then we tackled her long hair again. We brushed it a hundred strokes and I braided it for her and I explained that it would not get tangled if you slept with it in braids and that doing so had the additional benefit of making it really wavy and pretty when you took them out in the morning! She decided she would try sleeping with her hair in braids that night.

She had been with me since 4PM Friday afternoon and her father finally called back at 10PM on Sunday evening! He wanted to know if he should come and get her? (Or what?) I said, “Yes!” really fast , not giving him a chance to suggest an alternative. He arrived about an hour later. By now she had been with me for 55 hours! It had been supposed to be a Friday night overnight with a Saturday afternoon end! He had not even checked in! I had left several messages on his service.

Of course she was very excited to show him what we had done when he arrived. She  dragged him into the kitchen showing him two plates of home made from scratch cookies sitting on the counter. She made him try them. She took him into the dining room and showed him the rubber stamping projects. She showed him the notecards and the cookie packages, now tied up with pretty little ribbon bows that I had helped her to make. She showed him the movies we had rented and watched. And she showed him my box of nail polish colors and her brightly painted toes and fingernails. She told him, but she really didn’t need to, that she was wearing violet perfume. She fluttered about giving him the full report of our girls retreat weekend and a full tour of my home. I might note she gave the tour as if it were now her home as well!

She made her dad wait in the living room while she went into the bedroom to put something on to surprise him. I wondered what that was going to be! When she came out she was wearing a vintage hat from I.Magnin! She had decided to model my 1950’s Italian Straw and Velvet Turned -Upside Down-Flower-Pot-Hat with furry pipe cleaner vines and velvet leaves, trimmed in a large pink silk rose! She came running out saying  “This is my favorite one! This is my favorite one!”  and laughing at how cute and funny she thought it was! And she added, “It is from Paris! And Ladies used to wear hats like this! ” She was bubbling over…

She was delighted and she was delightful! I was delighted too. We girls had had a great time!

Perry is his name, and he was not. He said, “That’s very funny, but it’s getting late and you should get your things together and we should go. Im sure Violette has other things to do.” (It’s getting late? What things? Where was he yesterday? He hadn’t sent her with anything! And I suddenly might have other things I needed or wanted to do with my time? Wow! Again!)

We had put her clothes through the laundry so she was wearing them clean when she left. And we had packed up her cookie and card gifts for people in a shopping bag with handles. And I had given her a few goodies to take home. She went off to get them.

Perry turned around to me and said, “Well, I see you have her wearing nail polish and perfume! Don’t you think it is a little early for that? As if I won’t have enough trouble with her doing that at the normal time they do those things when she is about 12 or  13! ”

I said, “That’s too late, It is normal to do it at this age for fun and to learn how. It’s just for fun, anyway.”

He replied, “Well, She’s my daughter and that is not how I am going to raise her. She won’t be needing any of that stuff with what I am going to teach her……..

I said,  “She will be best off if she gets exposed to both…”

He, “Her mother was like that and it was not a good thing!”

I wondered, “Was her mother a female female, who enjoyed being a girl? And then, perhaps, got married to Perry here, and got exposed to all his wonderful ideas and had a lot of conflicts and it didn’t work out? And he was very resentful, so he was taking it all out on Sara in this restrictive way? ” I could only surmise this, but it is, to be honest, what it looked like …

Anyway, he clearly hated people (especially women) like me!

They said goodbye, she gave me an enormous hug, I said I hoped we could do this again as I had had a great time, and they went home.

Perry never thanked me.

But he did allow Sara to come back as often as I was able to have her visit. And he always left her way over the agreed 24 hour time. I knew that would happen, as did my friends, so we tried to schedule her visits when having her for a whole weekend would not conflict with anything else. He never sent her with any supplies or provisions, spending money or gifts. He did send her to an expensive private school. He would drop her off there, in his black Mercedes, and leave her there all day, first for the school day, then with the after school daycare service, until they closed. He would pick her up, right at closing every day – about 6PM. She told me they would often eat dinner at Wendy’s or Jack in the Box. Then they would go home, to their apartment, he would sit right down to work on his computer. She told me that, the minute after they entered the apartment door,  he took off his coat, threw it over a chair, walked to the dining room table, pulled his computer out of it’s case, sat down, turned it on, plugged himself in, and checked out. She would do her homework, and get herself ready for bed. She said they didn’t talk much because he was always on his computer. She said he was very involved in it and she found it really hard to get his attention to ask a question or have a discussion. So, she left him alone and tool care of herself. Eventually, she would go off to bed and he would still be up, working (or whatever he did)  on his computer. She told me nobody ever came over.

This was one very lonely little girl and I vowed to have her over as regularly as I could to try to break her monotony and offer her some other other influences. I just wanted her to see there is other stuff out there!

About a year later, when she was eight, Sara gave me a beautiful snapshot of herself, at the beach, sitting on the sand in her little black tank bathing suit with her long wavy brown hair falling around her shoulders all the way to the sand itself! She looked like a little Ondine. in the picture! And her hair looked just as clean and long and beautiful as Dorothy Lamour’s. It is a really beautiful picture and I love it. Of course I have kept it.

Sara would be able to visit, and stay for entire weekends, because her father would dump her off to get rid of her. Sadly, he only saw us as a convenient and free childcare service. I say “we” because my sons were often involved. I was not going to say no if I could fit it into the rest of my life and make such a huge positive difference in someone else’s. I did this because I enjoyed doing it and I liked her. Of course she did not have a pet, so our dog Meko became the animal friend in her life. She loved him.

I eventually taught Sara to knit which she really enjoyed. Once she took it up there was no stopping her and she became quite proficient at figuring out more and more challenging knitting techniques on her own. She was a smart little girl. When I sent her home with knitting Perry was not enthused about it. He told me, “Knitting is a totally nerdy thing to do and a complete waste of time.” He would never finance knitting projects for her though he could well afford to. I provided her supplies and in spite of his attitude she became a dedicated knitter and worked at it almost every day. She was eventually making herself cute tams and scarves and leg warmers. And she loved to crochet lace edgings. This was just the creative outlet she needed and I’m sure it helped her deal with the stress of her home life. She had a lot of time to practice her knitting. And she was very focused. I have no doubt she will be a lifetime knitter.

I  hung out with Sara quite regularly about once a month over the next five years.  She was interested in the things any normal 11 to 12 year old girl is interested in. The last time I saw her we ran into each other at a Starbuck’s. She was with a girl friend from her school. She still had her lovely long brown hair. We talked quite a while. I did not get any indication that she was playing the stock market yet or interested in studying to do so. She did say she would like to take dance lessons. The friend she was with was doing that and she wanted to go too. Perry has not let her do that. He has reasons he thinks it is not a good idea. She also said she wished she had a bike. He had reasons not to get her one as well. I asked if she would like to get together and walk around Green Lake. She said yes, she would, and I said I would call soon to set up a time.

So a couple of weeks later I called her father’s office to arrange it. The weather was getting nice and I thought she might like to go to the lake with me and take a good long walk, have lunch, talk and catch up. I got one of Perry’s employees. I explained who I was and why I was calling. We had talked before, making arrangements for Sara’s pick up and delivery. She told me, “Perry sold the business. They’re gone.” I asked if there was a way I could get ahold of them. She said, “I talk to him now and then, I’ll tell him you called.” I said,”Okay.”

I asked who bought the business. She told me. It was one of the employees who has been there many years. A couple of weeks passed and I didn’t get a call back so I called the new owner and I asked her if she knew where they had gone.

She told me, “He moved, to the Cayman Islands and he took his daughter with him.” That was all she knew.

I haven’t received any return calls and I would be very surprised if I ever did.

I could only assume Sara was now living in the Grand Caymans with her father and, at age 12, (that preteen age he was so worried about! ), among other reasons, he has shunted her off there to get her as far away from all those things she won’t need to know anything about (like those damned Feminine Arts!) given all the practical life skills he is going to be teaching her….

I’d bet she didn’t know she would be moving there when we ran into each other that last time at Starbuck’s! Had she known she would have told me! I bet he surprised her with that news very close to departure time! Knowing him she wouldn’t even have had time to pack any belongings! I hope she’s okay…

But I am confident from what I saw at our last meeting, that, Dorothy Lamour and Lady Violette have had enough of a chance to have made a permanent impact! Sara is growing up to be a lovely young lady who, in spite of, Perry, has chosen to be gorgeous because she likes to be and she can tell that it is to her own best interest.

Perry emphasizes that he is an Investment Specialist and he values his financial prowess. I was investing in something else, her as a friend and as a person. I feel that the time I spent with her and the things we did together were worthwhile. I was making my kind of investment in her future.

I know my investment will pay off and Sara, in the long term, is going to be gorgeous!

Some good advice from Martha Graham…

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Martha Graham

Good dance teachers have been some of the most interesting people I have ever known. They not only teach you about dance, they teach you about life with their constant running commentary on everything. They are constantly working at motivating you in every way possible. It is a way of thinking and a way of life…I remember things that many of the ones I studied with said decades later.

Here is an examples – of one of those things a dance teacher would typically say in a class or a rehearsal, a philosophical missile from the dance world – from Martha Graham. And they apply to everyone, not just dancers.

” There is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist again through any other medium and will be lost.” Martha Graham

Georges Braques, the French artist said,

Friday, February 18th, 2011

“There is Only One Valuable Thing in Art.

The Thing That You Cannot Explain.” – George  Braque, French Painter & Sculptor, 1882-1963.

He was so right, wasn’t he?

I think about this every day! I can explain and write about what I am thinking about when I make it, or how it comes to be, but I cannot explain the “Je ne sais quois!” factor, no one can! And I love that actually….

It adds to the mystery of the whole process…of making art and of experiencing art and life…

Mondrian Tangentially Influences Rite of Spring 2011 Fashion

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Mademoiselle Coco Against Mondrian Color Blocks with Beautiful Hair Clips

“Did Mondrian paint this Color Block golf shed? ” wonders Mademoiselle Coco her intense gaze fixed directly on the camera while she concentrates on channeling Picasso’s portrait of his Diaghilev Russian ballerina wife Olga with her dark hair pulled back and pinned with beautiful flower hair clips.

Mademoiselle Coco’s Spring 2011 Resort Collection Pour Le Sport is inspired by the artists, dancers and intellectuals of the Diaghilev Ballets Russes in Paris 1909 – 1929 seasons.

The romantic and feminine collection features le style sportif focusing on body conscious base pieces over-layered with ruffled and tiered dancer style skirts, wrap around tops and tie on aprons. The peasant influences seen in costumes for Le Sacre de Printemps, Les Noces,  and other folk theme infused ballets are visible in flower embroidered blouses and tunics colorfully trimmed with embroidery and ribbons.

In keeping with the peasantly balletic theme the model’s hair is decorated with flowers. We especially like the new way of using all the flower hair clips you have, all at once, all of the time! It is the  fresh new take on flowers in the hair for spring and everyone will be doing it!

Mademoiselle Coco and Lady Violette advise: “If you want to look fresh, and you do nothing else this spring, wear lots and lots of flowers in your hair!

Ribbon Hair Flowers Clips are designed by Lady Violette for Mademoiselle Coco. This spring the designer, Lady Violette, continues to explore Mondrian’s belief that the artist should “discard all non-essentials” and “restrict your work to natural forms of beauty” as this pertains to caring for, dressing and designing the hair. In other words, keep things fairly simple. Just wash your hair with a delicately perfumed floral shampoo and wear some flowers in it!

2011 Spring Fashion Update – Coco Pour Le Sport

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Golfing Costume by Coco Pour Le Sport for Her Resort Collection Spring 2011

The perfect ensemble for Golfing and Vogueing from Mademoiselle Coco’s Pour Le Sport Spring 2011 Resort Collection features a classically styled  black cotton knit dancer’s leotard paired with a full and feminine vintage inspired pale pink cotton gauze three tiered skirt, a la Marie Laurencin. It’s topped off with Coco’s must-have fashion accessories of the season – beautiful fancy flower hair clips hand made from satin ribbons worn in multiples across the head.

Hair clips designed for Mademoiselle Coco by Lady Violette. Leotard – vintage Danskin. Skirt – from model’s own vintage collection.

In this Spring 2011 Coco Pour Le Sport Resort Season everything is about being frilly and girly while having fun doing it with a respectful wave to the classic beauties of the past!

A Worldly Paris Left-Bank Expression finishes the look!

” Real Flowers are Always Best!” for Wearing in Your Hair!

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

"She Wants Real Flowers Now!"

Here is a lovely 3 year old Coco showing us her latest favorite way to wear flowers! In her hair! She loves to put pretty decorations in her hair and is always experimenting. Upon request I made her a collection of hair ornaments using ribbons made into little flowers attached to clips. A big hit! And very easy to do. I’ll post a picture soon.

For inspiration we looked at some pictures of the film actress Dorothy Lamour who was famous for wearing flowers in her long brown hair as well as necklaces, called leis, which are made of real flowers and are worn in Tahiti and Hawaii. Dorothy was very beautiful and in her vintage flower printed  sarongs, with big tropical flowers tucked behind her ear.

So Coco wants real flowers now! Here she is with real flowers in her hair! So inspirational and pretty!  A real one is always best!  And the inclusion of a couple of buds is lovely and so artistic! They can often be had easily and free from your own garden or picked from an overhanging rosebush in a nearby alley. This one happens to be a morning glory from a vine down the street that some might consider a weed. We see it as an exquisite art deco embellishment!

Children often have great style and fashion tips to offer which seem to come to them quite naturally. They are great with color and offbeat combinations. One can learn a lot and have a lot of fun dressing them and dressing up with them. And looking for costumes and children’s vintage clothing for them! I’ve found quite a few interesting old children’s things and given them new life! Look forward to seeing some in future postings…

Art and About… The Picture “Fur is Fabulous!” …………..

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

"Fur is Fabulous!"

I’ve decided to write about art and how artists make their work. And  how that process is reflected on a daily basis in their lives. I am asked about this a lot. Questions like, “How do you come up with such ideas? How did you ever think of that? How did that happen? ” So I will be discussing this from time to time and  hope to give insight into the creative process as I experience it. Artist friends are certainly invited to comment…I’d love to hear what you experience when you do it!

This picture is a perfect place for me to start. It is a picture of me and it is taken by my son, Leigh. Here is how it came to be made. We were at my house, in the living room/dining room/kitchen/com art studio section which is where everything happens. It was morning and we were getting organized to go out for the day. I had just taken a shower and I was was wearing a vintage black silk kimono and sitting on a wicker chair next to a small table with one of the Dutch Master’s inspired silk flower sculptures that I make on it. That is the floral arrangement you see on the right side of the composition. There is a window, high up on the left side from which natural morning light came into this scene. We were talking. And I was sewing. I am a designer and I make original designs and restyle and restore vintage clothing all the time. I always have something under construction. I had recently taken the large black Norwegian fox fur cuffs off of a deep purple wool coat from the 1940’s in order to have it cleaned. I wanted to wear it today so I was sitting there, reattaching the cuffs to the coat! I was carefully stitching them back in place by hand, one stitch at a time …

Leigh was born with a camera as an appendage. It is always with him and he is always using it to record and document his life and life around him. That naturally expands to include the lives of his family members, friends, and at this point everything else in the world. Nothing and no one is spared the scrutiny of his lens! He was talking to me as I sewed and drinking coffee and studying me and the light, but I was absorbed by what I was doing and not paying this any attention.

As you may have gleaned from my blog so far, I love hats! I love to wear them, style them, make them, talk about them, write about them, whatever… I was looking over the giant black fur cuff I was working on and stroking it, when, I suddenly thought of it as a HAT! Then I plopped it on my head, turned sideways, put my chin on my hand and struck the pose you see in the picture and said, “Fur is Fabulous!” and Leigh, who is always at the ready, snapped his shutter.

Then we split up, laughing. Laughing because we were having fun, we thought we might have spontaneously made a good portrait and we were feeling happy!

As it turned out, we had made a good portrait. We titled it, “Fur is Fabulous!” Many people have told us they like the photograph. It has also generated a great deal of controversy which is something we never would have expected …

I will continue to discuss both of these results in a future post….

Sheltie Rescue Attempt

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Tri-Color Sheltie

Monday, I spent the entire day at an animal shelter attempting to adopt a seven year old Sheltie. I have been on the placement list hoping to get one for 5 years in 5 states! This is the first notice of availability I have received. I received it at 10PM on Sunday night. Another person got the same email. They got over there sooner than I did and put on a 24 hr hold. I called immediately, but had to go through the machinated answering systems and leave a message. I  arrived when the shelter opened the next day, to fill out papers and meet the dog. I loved him. He loved me. I took a friend with me who has a collie. She could see we were meant for each other. So could the people at the shelter. They all said so. This dog had chosen me. However, they have very strict rules. It is strictly first come, first served. I had to wait to find out what the other people decided. They had until 6PM. They showed up, at 5:57 PM to say they would take him. So I lost out! I was very disappointed! I really wanted this dog! I will continue trying to find one!

I have gotten an older dog in the past this way. He became a member of the family, like a child, we truly adored him. He died several years ago, and I am ready to acquire a new dog now. I actually want an older dog. This one was 7 years old and would have been perfect for me. Alas! I will keep trying. I do not give up on anything. Today I have already filled out several more Sheltie Rescue applications.

I am telling you about this, in case you know of a Sheltie who is available for adoption.

I am also writing about it so that you can understand that my commitment to rescuing, recycling, preserving and caring for used things runs so deep that I will even take on an older dog for the remainder of it’s life and befriend and care for it responsibly in a totally committed way. I would absolutely love to be doing that right now! My plan was to have him with me, while I write, at my feet, and take him out for a couple of walks a day. We would be perfect/furfect companions because my life and work is such that my potential dog will never have to be left alone. My other dog was with me and my children all the time for six years. I really miss him. He was a Tri, like the one in the picture, but I am open to whatever Sheltie needs love, stability, a mistress who will spoil him and a good home…

Vintage Violet Clutch Purse – a Good First Knitting & Felting Project!

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Lady Violette's Vintage Violet Clutch Purse - Knitted,Felted, and Decorated with Vintage Buttons

This is a pretty little clutch purse, I hand knitted, felted and decorated with a few unique vintage buttons! It is very easy to make! I recommend it as a first knitting & felting project. I’ll be leading a group of knitting friends through make this purse in March. It requires only one ball Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky yarn. It’s a good way to use and enjoy vintage buttons you’ve collected.

The original pattern is by Leigh Radford,  It is called “The  Clutch You’ll Never Give Up” and is from the book “One Skein” available from Amazon.

The finished size is 10″ W x 6″ H. I’m making another in un-dyed natural yarn with mother-of-pearl buttons and documenting the process in photos as I go. I hope to post these for people to follow as they make the purse as it will help to understand the directions. The background is a poncho I knit and the bead necklace is also my design.

Of course I love all these shades of violet, lilac, lavender and rose! They are so feminine and uplifting! Lady Violette’s signiture colors! There are many shades of violet flowers in nature. I often see African Violets in this shade of violet. Did you know that bees love pinks and purples and are most attracted to flowers in these colors? I plant a lot of flowers in these shades in my garden to attract them. Butterflies love them too!

There is a knitting website called Ravelry, where you can see more renditions of this pattern as interpreted by other knitters. Just go there, type in the pattern name, search, and take a look. It is amazing to see the variety of looks people have made with this same pattern! You will get many ideas for colors and yarns you can use. The yarn I used is the same color and type used originally by the author. It comes in many colors. I suggest a visit to Leigh Radford’s site to check out her beautiful work and read her inspiring advice on artistic thinking and creative recycling! In the days of yore women worked on needlework together exchanging ideas and passing along skills. This is one of the best ways to learn knitting and sewing techniques. I learned this way from childhood – from my grand mother, mother, aunts, and grown-up friends. One more example of The Feminine Arts! The needlework skills are patiently and lovingly passed down from generation to generation. Leigh Radford calls her pattern “The Clutch You’ll never Give Up” and I recommend making it for several reasons: First, you can easily personalize it as I did using my signature color and vintage buttons and it is quick and easy to make. Second, if you learn to knit and sew through making projects that can be completed successfully without frustration, so that you learn to enjoy the process of making something, you will build technical needlework skills that you will never give up, too! Thus this is a great project for beginning level knitters. Thirdly, there are many uses for this little purse – it can be a clutch, or a makeup bag, or a needlework tool bag, or an art supply bag! I am so thrilled by it that I am making a second one that will look entirely different. I have also decided to line this bag because I want a very finished look. The pattern does not call for that but it can be done easily….A great little pattern and clutch purse which is an inspiration to set you off experimenting and creating your own unique accessories.

Origin Story of Meko, Bonsai Collie

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Best Friends

This is a picture of one of my sons and our beloved former family dog, a sweet Sheltie, named Meko. We got Meko at a school auction. But it was not your ordinary auction transaction.

The school was collecting donations for their fundraising auction. My son, who was in the 6th grade, came home from school and announced to me that he had offered to take home and care for two dogs who were being donated for the auction which was to take place in two weeks! They needed a place to stay and someone to take care of them until the actual fundraiser took place. Being a total softie for anything in a fur coat, I said yes, as long as you take care of them yourself, and you know what is involved in that. And he did. Home he came from school the next day with an 8 week old super friskie German shepherd puppy with gigantic paws, and a beautiful little 12 week old tri-color Shetland Sheepdog. The small one was named Meko which (we were TOLD) means Little Jewel in Japanese. And he was not only pretty – he was also the sweetest, most sensitive and intelligent puppy I had ever seen. He slipped smoothly and completely unobtrusively into our household. He never chewed up anything of value, he never barked noisily, he never made a mess in the house. He seemed miraculously to already be housebroken. He was a miracle dog! He was gentle and affectionate, and prancy and delicate. And he came when called, sat on demand, walked on a leash – it was unbelievable! He was also smart! smart! smart! He herded the neighborhood children who were small and absolutely loved that! We would go outside for a little walk and Meko would instinctively keep them all inline. It was adorable! The other puppy was sweet, but clumsy and licky and bitey and jumpy and a general big wiggly nuisance.

We made it through the next two weeks, barely! Our family decision was to let the boys bid on the Sheltie,  Meko, and keep him and find the other dog a suitable home. We promoted the German shepherd like mad at the school. Meko was in my son’s arms all the time, or in his lap or, when I would peek into his room at night curled up asleep on his pillow wrapped around his neck like a muffler. They were completely stuck together all the time. You could not pry them apart. I was teaching at the school myself in the afternoons, so I would bring the dog to my classroom. Everyone saw the two of them together and it was obvious they were meant to be together. No one would have questioned that.

Until…

The auction night arrived. It was held downtown in some venue they had procured for this thing. My son was supposed to bring the dogs around to the tables to show them to the potential bidders before their time came up. He walked them around on their leashes and carried them up to the tables to get their heads patted a few times throughout the evening. It seemed to drag on forever as those things tend to do! He told me later that he told every parent at every table that he had been caring for the dogs and was going to be bidding on the small one. Most people seemed genuinely charmed by this idylic boy and dog scenario. All seemed to be going well. people were drinking a lot though. But I guess the idea is to get them really sloshed so they will drop more money at these fundraisers.

The dogs finally came up. The German shepherd went first and sold for an abysmally small amount, of $48, for a beautiful pure bred dog with papers! But he went to a family with four young active boys so it was a good match. Then Meko’s turn came. My son was both holding him on stage and bidding on him. He did remarkably well juggling this scenario! It was essentially, him and two other bidders. A sensitive wife talked to her husband who was bidding and got him to back off at a reasonable point, she understood the situation and wanted to see the right boy get the dog.

The bidding had reached a hundred dollars at this point. We had agreed to go to $150. My son had $100 of his own money from his paper route. We had to keep in mind all the other expenses in owning a dog and had figured out a budget of about $1500 a year. This is a lot of money for a 6th grader. An Elderly Bouffant Blonde Grandma, who had had a lot to drink was bidding. She had swigged a lot of bourbon and she was high and climbing. In fact she was climbing higher and higher. She finally hit $300, then $350. We had to stop, We couldn’t go any higher. It was awful. The Bourbon Swigging, Grand Mother with the Bouffant-Grey-Blond-Hairdresser-Done-Do and the too-large hands weighted down with huge diamond dinner rings was ahead. She wouldn’t stop. She was going to get that dog!  She would not give up! She had decided she fancied him and was going to have him, no matter what and that was that! She was unstoppable. Absolutely hard and absolutely unstoppable! She reminded me of the old women competitors on Strictly Ballroom. She was horrible! And her competitive urge was stoked to the highest level by the chance to go up against this little schoolboy hook line and sinker. She was unbeatable. And, sadly, she won!

The School had hired a professional auctioneer. An old professional state licensed guy who did this for schools and organizations all over town and had made his reputation on ruthlessly buoying up the fundraising spirits of the auction attendees with alcohol and pursuing the audience member’s bids to acquire top dollar. He was really quite slimy. Clearly, he didn’t care what happened, as long as the bids were high. He got to drink all night and was paid a $250 fee to basically have his idea of a rollicking-good-time and be the star of his own little show. The utterly delectable little dog we had thought would be our own for good had been won by a Bawdy-Drunk-On-Bourbon-Bouffant-Blond-Grandma and had netted the school $350.

My son was crestfallen, heartbroken, let down, all those kinds of words at once strung together. He looked terrible – like he was going to die. We had attempted to prepare for this awful possibility but no one had really grasped that it could actually happen. And then it did! It was as if the sun had sunk into the sea and would never rise again…

I told my son to tell the auctioneer’s staff that his parents said he could have the dog and we would still allow him to take it if anything happened and the winning woman changed her mind. He did so. And then he had to have his last cuddle and say his last goodbye to his best-friend-ever and turn him over to the auction people who put the most beautiful puppy in the world into a severely scratched blue plastic dog kennel and carried him away forever…We sadly watched him limply carry the little dog up to the front of the stage, rub his face up against the dogs soft twitchy little ear and kiss it and hug him to his chest, and then he had to hand him over. Tears were streaming down his face. It was one of the saddest things ever. It was absolutely traumatic. I felt completely drained. This was one of those times as a parent that no one has prepared you for. What was I going to do now? I had to be both realistic and truthful and somehow supportive, encouraging and optimistic, too. All at once. And I was devastated myself. I had fallen in love with this little Sheltie too! What were we going to do? My now ex-husband was not a lot of help. He had only attended because he was expected to and he had also had too much to drink and was just ready to go home, get out of his suit and plop down. It was a cold night and raining hard out.

It was a horrible night. We hadn’t had fun. We don’t like attending events like that. I don’t think anyone ever does. People only do it because they think they have to to help raise money for special programs at the school. I had worked hard on this auction. I had procured thousands of dollars worth of donations from my artist friends – all kinds of services and artwork, classes, experiences, you name it. As I recall I was told I was the highest procurer of donations for the auction that year.  I had topped off the previous year’s procurer and hit the $6,000 mark for the actual sold value of the donations I had raised for the school. I didn’t care. I felt totally deflated and awful. And now I had two very sad little boys to contend with. I had the older one who is the main character here and his brother who is two years younger. They were both very upset.

Somehow we all made it into the car, and I asked my son what happened when he was talking to the people up at the front. Through tears on the drive home he told us, ” I told him to be bad. I told him to be really really bad and that maybe we would be able to be back together if he did that.”

We got home. It was one of those wet out nights where everything in the house when you get home still feels somewhat damp and unpleasant. I remember tearing off my high heels as soon as I set my feet inside the front door, delighted to get them off! I finally got everybody, exhausted and totally unhappy into their beds and ready to go to sleep. That was a Saturday night.

The next day was Sunday. Very early in the morning, probably about 5:30AM I was up, making coffee.  I couldn’t sleep. My son came muffling into the kitchen, in his pajamas, rubbing his eyes, shuffling his slippers across the hardwood floor. I poured myself a mug of coffee and we went into the living room and sat down on the couch where we could watch the sun come up. I wrapped him up in an afghan. I wrapped myself up in another one. I sipped my coffee.

And then he asked me, “UHM…,” long pause…., “Did she call yet?”

I was not quite expecting this! But I had to reply. so I said, “Not yet! I think you will have to wait. If we hear from her at all it probably won’t be for a few days.” He was quiet and thoughtful. I had another sip of coffee.

He said,”I told him to be really really bad.” I said, “Good. That is all you can do.”

He started to relax, and, after a little while he dozed off.

I didn’t – I was both exhausted and worried.

After a while I snuck back into the kitchen and shut the door to leave him alone on the couch sleeping peacefully. He needed it! I made oatmeal. I drank more coffee.

About 9AM he peeked through the kitchen door and asked, hopefully, “Did she call yet?” I had to answer. I said. “No, I’m sorry!

He was trying so hard to wait, so hard to be patient. It was obvious that this was terribly difficult for him.I knew it was going to be a very long day! I felt exhausted. What a let down!

The morning eventually got underway. People were moving around.  There wasn’t a lot of activity, but the people were at least sort of there. My mother stopped by on her way to church. The neighbor’s kids were playing outside. Our yards sort of blended together.

All of a sudden the phone rang, shrilly. Everybody stopped moving. And looked at me! I picked it up. There was a gravelly husky female voice on the other end.

She asked, “Do you still want IT?”I said “Yes!” I was so excited I was practically bursting.

“Shall I come over and pick him up? ” I asked.

She said, “NO! I’m nearby. I’ll bring him right over.”

Within five minutes, a huge shiny new Lemon Yellow Cadillac had pulled into our driveway. She was driving. She had gotten out of the car and was unloading the scratched blue plastic kennel from the back seat well before I made it out to the driveway.

Her little 6 yr old grand daughter was sitting in the back seat of the car, without a seatbelt on. She was screaming. “No! NO! NO!… and had obviously been crying. I looked in there concerned. The woman said, “Don’t worry about it. She’ll get over it! ”  She was in a big hurry and just wanted to get this over with!

I asked her what had happened? Why was she changing her mind? How did she want to handle this? She first said, all in one sentence, and very fast, that she was in a terrible hurry because she had to get up to the Sand Point Golf and Country Club for her bridge party and she had all the flowers in the car and all the stuff she has to deliver and she was running late.

I was looking at her hair. It was sprayed very stiff, It looked like a plastic helmut.  Although she was gyrating and gesticulating all over the place and had been through a hard night to hear her tell it, not a hair on her entire head had moved since the night before at the auction event. It was perfectly plastered down with hairspray so it that it would stay in place retaining its intended style. It was utterly amazing! She was still talking a mile a minute and she said she had gotten her granddaughter the dog thinking it would be very cute, but she took it home last night and it was a disaster. Of course it was! Because, as it turns out, she lives on a houseboat!

She excitedly and speedily relayed how she had barely gotten the dog down her wet slippery dock – with him in his kennel and herself in her high heels and tight Escada skirt. And IT (Meko) had noticed the ducks that live in the water down there. And he had realized what they were and he began to bark and go crazy. Meko undoubtedly saw the ducks through the little slats in the blue plastic kennel cage and he undoubtedly smelled them and this in turn undoubtedly set off his herding instincts on automatic pilot! So he was barking loudly and nervously and was very stimulated by the ducks and they were quacking loudly and nervously and their wings and feathers were fluttering and flying like mad. She slipped but she got through the front door. (Those damned high heels! they are the wrong shoes for times like this!) Then it went from bad to worse. Meko was running up and down the length of the houseboat. The grand daughter was getting very excited. She was chasing him and throwing a ball at him and various stuffed animals because she was trying to distract him from the ducks. It must have been utterly chaotic. I was delighted with this dog! I was laughing inside myself thinking, “What a good good dog!”  And,  “She doesn’t know the breed so she was misinterpreting his Good Sheltie Working Dog Behavior as frenzied madness.” This was turning out perfectly! For us!

We got IT, still in the kennel, out of the car. Then we got IT out of the kennel. Meko was totally quiet. He just stood there sweetly on the grass waiting for the drama to blow over, not wiggling and not making a sound.

Both of my sons were also being very quiet and waiting in the background. They were both behaving perfectly. Again it was like these three were wired at the hip.

Blonde Grandma explained that IT, as she emphatically called him, had been a monster all night and she simply could not deal with it. IT had chewed up a Calvin Klein sweater, and a pair of Charles Jourdan shoes were now ruined because IT had bitten through the leather that coats the plastic heels several times. IT had gotten hold of a pair of her wool Armani Express designer pants in ITS teeth and her grand daughter started to pull on them to play tug-a-war with him and IT had torn an entire bite out of the cuff of one side! They are now unwearable! She put a bowl of water on the kitchen floor and IT flipped it over and got water streaked all over the kitchen floor. IT jumped on things – like the couch, the armchairs, the bed. IT grabbed the girl’s stuffed animals and ran off with them, shaking them up in a frenzy. IT growled and IT snorted and IT puffed and IT fumed and IT shook ITS head. You couldn’t get anything away from IT once IT got ITS horrid little teeth into it!

I could see my son was smiling inside himself on the sidelines but he was not going to say anything. I could hear exactly what he was thinking! “I told him to be bad, very very bad!”

I asked what she wanted us to do about the money part. She said, to my surprise, “Just take him. I have to get going, We can settle it up at the school later on.”

I met with her up at the school at the end of the week. She had calmed down enough to admit she had buyer’s remorse. She ended up just giving us the dog because we were kind enough to “take IT off her hands.” And I ended up telling her little grand daughter (to whom she had given the dog when she got home from the auction ) that we would share him with her up at the school. This little girl was dropped off at the school every day at 6:30 AM in the morning and had her breakfast there. She attended the school daycare for the hours that School was not actually in session. She was in the first grade and her day at the school facility began at 6:30AM and finished at 6: PM It was along long day for her it seemed to me. She had been dropped off to live with her grandma on the houseboat two years ago and had not seen her real mother since. The real mother was supposed to be in LA doing something career oriented. Blond Grandma was long divorced (if she had ever been married). Nobody could ever remember anything about that. The six year old grand daughter said she didn’t think she had a father. And that they really never discussed it! She told me that.

What they did have was a houseboat on Portage Bay filled with designer this and that and surrounded by ducks. And a Lemon Yellow Cadillac to drive to the Catholic school where my kids had scholarships. And a membership at the Sand Point Golf & Country Club.

What they didn’t have was any peace. Peace does not mean inactivity. In fact, we had a large yard and household full of active kids from all over the neighborhood. Each yard led into the next to create a wide territory for the neighborhood pets. This was the perfect environment for a herding dog to be calm and happy in. A few days after we got Meko back, a neighborhood Japanese boy, who was about four years old at the time and very small, decided Meko’s real name was Bonsai Collie, and the nick name stuck.

That is how we ended up with Meko, our family Sheltie, the best dog in the Whole World !

“YOUTH is the gift of nature, but AGE is a work of art.” – Unknown

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Lady Violette

I found this bit of advice taped to the side of my friend’s refrigerator this morning. It was torn out of a copy of the Old Farmer’s Almanac  and illustrated with a pen and ink rendition of an elegant mature beauty with marceled hair primping her waves while looking into a hand mirror…

It will make me remember to primp a few times today!

“I realize that beauty is serious business and I take being beautiful seriously…It requires daily discipline and hard work! ”

Lady Violette de Courcy

Madame Lola Montez, the Adventuress and Spanish Dancer’s Dedication

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Lola Montez Adventuress and Spanish Dancer from Rialto Pictures

Lola Montez’s dedication is one of Lady Violette’s favorite quotes!

In her book, – THE ARTS OF BEAUTY, or Secrets Of A Lady’s Toilet. With Hints to Gentlemen on THE ART OF FASCINATING by Madame Lola Montez, Countess of Landsfeld, republished by Ecco Press, 1978 – the authoress Inspiringly states,

“TO ALL MEN AND WOMEN OF EVERY LAND, Who Are Not Afraid of Themselves, Who Trust So Much in Their Own Souls That They Dare Stand Up in the Might Of Their OWN INDIVIDUALITY,  To Meet The Tidal Currents of the World. This book is Respectfully Dedicated, by THE AUTHOR”

I first encountered the fascinating personage, Lola Montez, when I was attending a show of American photographer’s historic black and white portraiture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.http://www.metmuseum.org/

In a small frame in a back corner of the exhibit gallery was a tiny portrait of an arresting dark haired woman with mesmerizing eyes wrapped in an embroidered Chinese Shawl with long macrame fringe, her stare daring you to look deeper. A caption on a plaque at the bottom of the silk mat surrounding her picture read: ” Lola Montez, Adventuress and Spanish Dancer.” She was gorgeous and exotic, and my first thought was, “I want to be her!”I can’t remember any other portrait in that show, but hers I will never forget.

I began to research her. She had an amazing life, every step of the way. She was born Irish in 1818, raised in India, at 17 eloped and married  her mother’s lover to escape an arranged marriage to an octogenarian  banker. Her new husband returned her to his family home in Ireland where he drank and beat her. Then, never having even seen a Spanish dance, much less had a Spanish dance lesson in her life, she escaped domestic abuse by changing her name and recreating herself as Lola Montez, Spanish Dancer, joining a theater group, and suddenly becoming famous all over Europe including Spain as The Spanish Dancer Lola Montez! She was an enormous success, notoriously charming and amorous and became known as The Most Beautiful Woman in the World. She became the friend of Tsar Nicholas I, Franz Liszt, Balzac, and Alexander Dumas, who said, “in her was mind and heart enough for a dozen kings.”

Fate eventually led her to Vienna and the castle steps of Mad King Ludwig I of Bavaria. She captivated him and became his mistress. He appointed her Countess of Landsfeld and Baroness Rosenthat. For a while she wielded tremendous power and influence in Germany, but then in 1848, The country rebelled and Ludwig lost his throne. Lola escaped to Switzerland to await him, He never made it and was murdered. She had to flee.

Lola Montez, short of funds, was forced – after turning them down many times, to accept Barnum and Bailey’s offer to join their circus as the Most Beautiful Woman in the World. This led her to America. One thing led to another and she ended up in California during the Gold Rush and opened a brothel. There she madamed, lectured on fashion, beauty, and gallantry, and wrote her memoires.

She eventually returned to New York, worked to save battered women under her original name of Eliza Gilbert and died, as a religious recluse in 1861 at the age of only 43! She is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

In 1955 Max Orphuls made his great last movie about her life. I think it is beautiful and brilliant as she was!

” A breathtaking story about a courtesan who suffers both ecstatic highs and hellish lows. Thanks to The Cinematheque Francaise, we finally have something close to a definitive  version. Don’t miss it!” – David Fear , Time Out New York ” Lola Montes  http://www.filmforum.org/films/lolamontes.html#

Her old fashioned beauty book which I have quoted in the opening paragraph is witty, entertaining and full of quaint facial recipes and potions and inspirational quotes on beauty from ancient philosophers and writers. Her own charmingly delivered advice on life is remarkably pertinent even today. It’s a fun period book to read!

Lady Violette’s Special Sauce Vinaigrette – a Wonderful French Salad Dressing Often Served Chez Violette

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Lady Violette’s Sauce Vinaigrette

a Very Special French Salad Dressing often served Chez Violette


This makes about 1/2 cup.

Step #1) Combine in a lidded jar:

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. dry mustard

1 tbs. balsamic vinegar

1 tbs. olive oil

Attach lid and shake vigorously until well blended,

Step #2) Then, add:

2 tbs. olive oil

Attach lid and shake well again,

Step # 3) Then, add:

1 tbs. vinegar

3 tbs. olive oil

1 clove pealed and cut in half garlic

Attach lid and shake well again.

Step # 4) Place the covered jar in a cool place until ready to use. Shake well before using. Remove the garlic cloves then drizzle over salad greens, then toss greens to coat thoroughly. Add other vegetables, etc. (nuts, croutons) to the tops of the coated salad greens after dressing.

You can use other types of oils, instead of olive oil, such as walnut or hazelnut for a variation in flavoring. You can use fresh squeezed lemon juice instead of vinegar if you like. You can add 1 tbs. V-8 juice to the dressing during the final step for a  tomato flavoring. You can add 1/4 tsp. herbs de provence, ground fine in a mortar and pestle to the final step of mixing.

This dressing can be made and used immediately as part of your salad making routine or made a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator marinating with the the garlic clove until the next day. Allow it to warm up and “melt” before mixing it with the greens or you will have a gummy blob. I have microwaved it for a few seconds to rush this when in a hurry. Be careful not to do it more than a few seconds or you will ruin the dressing by cooking it which it will not like. It is safer, unless you are experienced, to let it warm up on its own at room temperature while you prepare the rest of your meal.

The most important thing is that you have to mix the dressing in the three steps as directed. It does not turn out properly if you try to mix it faster by adding all the ingredients to each other in the beginning. Don’t rush it!

Also note: I toss the greens in the dressing in a large bowl with a wooden salad spoon and fork before adding the remaining salad ingredients. This assures that the greens are all well coated with the dressing but the other additions retain their freshness and beauty by being gently arranged on the top of the coated greens.

You can serve the salad in a large bowl or on a platter or on individual plates. For buffets I like to spread it out on a beautiful antique or vintage platter decorated with flowers and garnish it with pretty colored vegetable and flowers carefully arranged around the sides. This is always very impressive.

Even children and adults who often say they hate vegetables get hooked on my salads! The dressing makes everything taste good and they actually discover that their taste buds have grown up to like salads and vegetables since the last ones they tried!

Aha! It is a trick I learned from my mother. She would tell us, “You should taste that dish tonight. I am quite sure you really will find that you like it. Artichoke’s are a very adult culinary delight. I bet your taste buds have grown up since the last time you tried them and you probably are big enough to like them now! Try dipping them in this amazing sauce I have made for them (and you!) . It is really quite a lot of fun to peel off a leaf and dip it into my yummy Hollandaise.”  And we would try it and lo and behold she was right! We had grown up enough to acquire a taste for the exotic vegetable at hand.

Of course she used all manner of cute fancy little dishes and quirky specialized utensils to tantalize us into trying to eat with them. It was terrific fun. We would eat things with tiny silver pinchers, or two-tined specialty forks, even down-sized children’s chop sticks. She went to great lengths to introduce us to amazing exotic foods and teach us to cook along side her. These were wonderful old fashioned skills to pass down to me. My father rightly referred to them as “The Feminine Arts.” It is a great asset for anyone to know them. I pride myself on my knowledge of The Feminine Arts. And I am happy to be able to pass on some of that legacy to others should they wish to learn to practice them. They make my life more romantic and lovely to live, in practice, as well as in theory every day.

And here are some of my Lady Violette Basic Salad Recipes. So you have some ideas to get you going using the Lady Violette Sauce Vinaigrette

These are ideas. You can experiment. I like to use greens of all kinds with this dressing. Some of my salads are as follows:

Salad #1)

Lettuces

Water Cress

Sliced Tomato

Sliced English Cucumber

Sliced Avocado if desired

Salad #2)

Boston Bib Lettuce

Red Leaf Lettuce

Granny Smith Apples cut into small pieces

Walnuts

Salad #3)

Spinach

Thinly Sliced Red Onion

Sliced Kumquats

Dried Zante Currants

Sunflower Seeds

Salad #4)

Spinach

Sliced Red Onions

Greek Olives

Feta Cheese Crumbled

Cherry Tomatoes – Red and Yellow if available

Salad #5)

Spinach

Sliced Red Onions

Sliced Hard Boiled Eggs

Sliced English Cucumbers

Goat Cheese

Salad #6)

Lettuces

Sliced Herb Baked Chicken Breast (My Recipe)

Grated Cheddar Cheese

Green Onions

Tomato Wedges

Carrots,

Celery

Herb Croutons (Made from Rosemary Diamante Bread)

Pomegranate Seeds (if available)

Salad #7) This is my favorite!

Greens – Any Combination of Fresh Herbs and Lettuces you can get in season.

I often call this roadside salad in the summer as many or the greens can be gathered wild or from your garden

Berries – Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Huckleberries, Blackberries, etc.

Nuts – Select from your favorite varieties.

Sliced Oranges if desired

Edible Flowers – Especially Violets and Rose Petals, Pansies, Calendula, etc.

Fresh Mint Leaves

Bon appetite! From the kitchen of Lady Violette, Chez Violette

Lauren Bearcall in a Sock Knitting Consultation with Baaharaji

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Lauren Bearcall Consulting with Baaharaji

Elegant Lauren Bearcall who is a movie star in real life, has recently started knitting, something she has wanted to do all her life but is finally taking up. (Doesn’t that sound familiar!) Her frantic filming schedule didn’t allow for this in the past. Fortunately knitting is something you can take up at any point in life! Note how she is dressed! Just like the glamorous film star she is! A beautiful vintage faux fur coat, a charming one-of-a-kind hat trimmed in French wired ribbons and berries, a necklace, and last but not least a very original wooden designer handbag. She has just purchased a set of the new short wooden double pointed sock needles – you can see them in her purse, by Clover! from Joanne’s Fabrics

And she has brought in the very first sock she has ever knitted to show to Baaharaji who is a sheep and is also an accomplished knitter and teacher. Being a sheep he naturally knows a lot about wool. He is from India and is a guru of knitting! When he teaches sock knitting to a student he has them make a small sample sized mini sock for their first one in order to learn the techniques before they spend a lot of time and effort making a normal sized one. Ms. Bearcall is finished with hers and is stopping by to show it to him and make a plan for starting her wearable sized real pair. He is showing her a ball of Noro yarn to give suggestions on a type of yarn and color scheme she might use. The proper set up – choosing the right yarn and getting the right needles, and a good pattern are the keys to success. And, of course, having a good knitting instructor or friend to consult with – checking the process and advising as needed along the way – giving experienced advice and instructions. A good needlework book covering knitting and crocheting in a basic way with easy to see instructions is a good thing to have on hand! Baaharaji will recommend one coming up…

My Little Knitting Helper Working Away – on the Noro Sweater Project

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

My Dapper Tailoring & Knitting Assistant Tangeurro Bearo

Meet one of my assistants. Tanguerro Bearo. He is a tailor by day and an Argentine  tango dancer by night. They are called Tanguerros – thus his name. This explains his style in dressing too, Dapper vests and trousers and Natty suits to impress the ladies. A dedicated dancer, he attends milongas every night of the week. By day he works for me and we have the added benefit of listening to tango music all day long. He also DJs!

Here he is working on knitting one of the sleeves for the Noro sweater pictured earlier. Behind him is displayed the enormous crocheted  vintage rainbow granny square afghan, And it was quite chilly in the kitchen studio today so he has covered up with another of my hand made vintage crocheted afghans – this one is child size, also done of granny squares and is made in a green and red color way with orange, wine, brown and beige accents.

Tanguerro Bearo is an interesting gentleman and great fun to work with. It is always good having him around telling stories about his dances and his homeland of Argentina and sharing his culture with us while we create. He’s good company!

Note:  I will be adding a children’s blog soon featuring these characters but I wanted to begin to introduce them to you here on my blog.

I’m Knitting with Hand Dyed Noro Yarns My Latest Work in Progress

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Cardigan Under Construction Using Noro Hand Dyed Yarns

I’ve undertaken working with Noro’s beautiful hand colored yarns lately. It is challenging as no ball is alike, you must carefully match and juxtapose the sections of colored yarn if you choose to achieve balance and symmetry on both sides of a garment. In knitted garments I do.

I am all for asymmetry in many types of garments but I like symmetry in my hand knitting. This requires watching every line and row as you go and making judgement calls as to where to break or yarns and add new ones to continue in the same colors. My goal is a beautiful garment when finished.

I have sped through this one. It still has the following to be completed:  long sleeves and a button band and 12 tiny buttons and corresponding buttonholes coming down the front. And seams to be hand sewn with all the stripes matching. And, finally, blocking.

Knitting with Noro requires nerves of steel, patience and concentration, I am blogging about it in the hopes that that will instigate me to finish it sooner over later. Giving myself an audience should help me to see it through because I have an obligation to post the finished project for the readers to see. I guess we will find out soon enough if this theory works!

I’ve been working on this sweater for 2 weeks, off and on and hope to be able to finish it before the end of the month of February – that being the very longest I will allow myself. I set dates for myself to finish projects. I don’t like to put them away and drag them out months later. I love getting to the finishing line.

I will post some I have just finished tomorrow! For inspirational purposes – for myself as well as readers. I’ve meant to do it for a long time. It is good for me to photograph my finished projects. Then start wearing them. I love that part! And getting asked about them when I’m wearing them. It is so rewarding! This one is done from inspiration from a Noro Pattern in the hardcover book Knitting Noro.

I always seem to make so many changes that I am quite far away from the pattern I started to work on by the time I am finished. I just use it as a guideline essentially. Come back to see the finished garment in a couple of weeks!

I love the style of hand knits in the winter – both to make and to wear! And the warmth and the softness and the colors. The yarns are so beautiful and enjoyable. Knitting is yet another of the feminine arts that benefits one so much. It is very relaxing to do, very Zen in my opinion. I love it!

Add Color to Your Life in the Winter – My Knitting Nook as an Example

Friday, February 11th, 2011

All the Colors in the Rainbow - The Kitchen Knitting Nook

It has been so drab and dark out lately that I’ve been redecorating daily to add color to my home environment. My local knitting shop closed suddenly and I decided to create my own perfect knitting environment at home. Hoping some of my knitting friends would like to come over to knit together as we did in the shop! This is an invitation to you guys!

It’s in the corner of my kitchen where I do all my creative projects, under the kitchen window, I have a black couch there and a glass coffee table, plain but allowing me to bring in elements of color for continual change. I thought it would be fun to show some of the various design looks I achieve! And where I make many of my things!

I knit and sew there. I take all my photographs there. It is the only place with enough light in the house for these activities. As kitchens are a social place for families I can be in the middle of all the activity while working on my stuff. I like the chaos, actually. It inspires me. Tea can be made easily as it is in the kitchen!

Here I have spread a crocheted afghan made of  yarns of all the colors in the rainbow against black – an instant brightener! And the wool texture as well as the colors creates inviting comforting warmth. I Knit a lot and love exotic yarns and fibers. This is a good way to show of one of my afghans and enjoy the visuals of projects in progress. I set up vignettes of “little helpers” to entertain children and inspire them to start leaning to sew, knit and crochet. I learned from my grandmother and mother when I was about 5 yrs old. Another one of those good old fashioned feminine arts that are so pleasurable and life enriching to know how to do. I will soon be blogging about teaching children to knit and sew and putting out my grandmother’s diary of hand sewing lessons for children. She actually wrote them down in a book as weekly lessons. Fascinating and still completely applicable today. I have taught several children to sew with them and it is time to get this information out to more people. This is an activity you can do with your child. You can learn to sew as an adult if you don’t know how through these lessons as well, as they will work for everyone. They are brilliant. Quite easy and no sewing machine is required. Watch for these. I am adding a tag for children as I will be writing things you can share with your child of all ages (that includes grown ups.) I was asked if I could teach a 24 yr old woman to sew yesterday and an 11 yr old girl today. Yes, I can! and I believe I can do it  this way. I have ideas for continuing into basic machine sewing as well. Watch for posts about sewing lessons coming soon.

An Inspiring Story About the Power of Hats and Friendship

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Mindy aka Princess WOW!

And of how Princess WOW! and Lady Violette became friends and how she became the princess she is today…

I have known Mindy Fradkin-Mousaa for nearly 20 years. We met in 1992 in NYC when both of us were giving trunk shows at Henri Bendel. Mindy was making and selling hats and I was creating jewelry and selling it. Mindy is very talented and generously shares her knowledge and contacts to help out her friends. She is full of energy and enthusiasm demonstrating the trait of extraordinary discipline to get the job done whatever she is working on well and on time. I had my first taste of seeing her perform with grace and determination under pressure when I helped her get out a big order of hats years ago.

She is a very dependable person. She can be fully relied upon professionally and as a friend. I have witnessed this over and over again during the many years of our friendship. Through the thick and thin experiences that life throws everyone Mindy has always managed to stay sane, loyal and funny! She is naturally funny in an innocent and disarming way. It seems to be in her DNA! This trait both charms and amuses those around her. At times it is a saving grace for all involved. Sometimes all you can do is laugh!

Mindy is a visual artist and also has the rare personality talent of being able to make people relax and smile and laugh while invigorating them with spiritual purpose to improve the world. These talents eventually led her to spearhead a movement called The Smile Revolution which raises awareness to the healing power of a genuine smile, which began in 2005. She was on the radio often as an occasional co-host on Doug Grunther’s Woodstock Roundtable, which led to her own radio show in 2006 on WKNY 1490 am.

She has become an inspiring performer and teacher. Her hats are now a part of her performance because they charm people and cheer them up, but her main focus has shifted from hats to smiles. Her main focus is now making people happy and teaching them to spread that happiness like a big huge smile wrapped around the world holding everybody close and leaving no one out.

She still makes hats, for her own use in her work and for an occasional client. They are one-of-a-kind creations at this time and are costly to produce in terms of time and materials as they are couture creations. We are hoping that she will eventually be able to produce her designs in multiples at more affordable prices and thus make them available to more people. I hope to eventually be able to assist her in this endeavor. Every one should have the experience of being able to wear one of the crowns that Princess WOWS! hats feel like when you wear them. It is a very pleasurable experience to be crowned as you go throughout your day in a beautiful chapeaux! She now makes hats under the label of Princess WOW! They are not available in stores at this time, but you can contact her personally if you are interested in having one custom made for you. I for one, will be ordering a new one for Spring 2011. And, in case you are interested for the historical record, Mindy’s Important Hats were sold, among other places, in Henri Bendel and at Nordstrom.

Mindy aka Princess WOW!, which is the professional name she now goes by, (and I will write about that soon as I have a great interest in names!) has found her life’s work through The Smile Revolution project which allows her to utilize all her artistic abilities and her considerable performing talents while raising consciousness for social reform. That is making people aware of the fact that they can have an effect on the lives of those around them by the simple act of smiling at each other and thus opening their hearts to give and receive good. Through this simple action they will begin to effect change, become more aware of each other, friendlier, happier and more responsible. Then they will go on to accomplish more important and substantial work. Princess WOW! also has her own band now. It is called Princess WOW! And The Smile Revolution Band. She and her husband, Roland Mousaa write and sing smile songs for children and the child within us all. Richard Barone, Mary Poppiins, Maureen Shames and Joe Johnson are in the band as well.

Princess WOW! Produces concerts for The Smile Revolution’s cause and has been developing a tv show for the networks to promote her cause. Joe Frankin, Pete Seeger, Robert Thurman and Sid Bernstein are all supporters of her mission.

Joe Franklin is presently helping her attain contacts in this industry and considers her his niece. What an honor! As he is a most interesting individual and a true gentleman! Mindy loves having him as her honorary uncle. Sometimes the family and relatives we acquire through living and loving in life are more wonderful and helpful, more in sync with us, than the one’s we are born with! I don’t have any real sisters, so I have adopted Mindy and consider her to be my honorary sister! As we are now both titled aristocrats in our own royal family, I am Lady Violette and she is Princess WOW! Please note, We did not choose royal status or names for ourselves. They were given to us by our friends in fun and as an honor and we are embracing that!

As for me, I am a jewelry and fashion designer, and a writer, and was a professional ballet dancer in New York City, San Francisco and Seattle for many years. I also became a dance teacher so that I could pass my knowledge and experience on to others. I have always been a lover of interesting people and beautiful things and have loved to collect both! To collect the people as friends and  to collect and wear beautiful fashions and accessories. I consider dressing beautifully to be an art form in itself. I love beautiful hats, among other lovely things. And I am very fond of vintage fashion as well! I have purchased and collected many of Princess WOW’s Important Hats, which they were called years ago. I wrote an article, The Confessions of a Head Turner, about my experiences wearing her hats that was published in NYC. I will find that piece and post it on my blog soon. I was living in Seattle then, but would visit her each time I visited NYC and I continued to order hats from her. I own about 20 of her hats! I can honestly say that I feel I have Princess WOW! with me as a friend whenever I wear one of her hats. And this is a very nice feeling because she is everything one could want in an ideal friend: loyal, trustworthy, generous, inspiring, dependable, amusing, entertaining, serious,and dedicated. That in additon to being a wonderfully, talented artist and a tireless worker who is instigating good and bringing out the best in others…..

You can find out more about my royal sister Princess WOW! and her work at these links:

theprincessofwow.com

thesmilerevolution.com

Vintage Garolini Shoes Advertising Art

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Garolini Advertising Art

A charming example of a vintage Garolini ad!

Lady Violette’s Vintage Violet Gloves

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Lady Violette's Vintage Violet Glove Collection

Lady Violette loves gloves! Always on the lookout for wonderful examples, in any colors.

Here are some fabulous examples of  violet colored gloves in my collection from left to right:

1) Full length sheer nylon violet colored evening gloves with mother of pearl buttons – mid 1950’s

2) Short wrist length orchid colored nylon Easter gloves – early 1960’s

3) Wrist length hand crocheted lavender lace gloves – mid 1950’s

4) Ruched foxglove colored elbow length nylon gloves. – mid 1950’s

Perfumes Berdoues Violettes de Toulouse in vintage automizer and French lavender silk millinery roses