Let me introduce you to my favorite piece of clothing...
It comes from the Etsy shop Le Muse, out of Vilnius, Lithuania. The shop is based on one design, though there are a few variations. The design is based on the idea of draping a single piece of fabric in such a way as to best flatter the female form in all its variations.
The design is a stroke of genius. At first glance, it's difficult to tell which end of the piece goes where, and putting it on for the first time takes some figuring. But once mastered, it becomes the easiest thing in the world to wear. Over jeans, over tights, the piece does indeed flatter from any angle.
And as any mother of a toddler knows, any item of clothing that you can slip over your head with one hand and be out the door the next moment looking halfway decent is worth its weight in gold.
LeMuse comes in cottons and wools of various weights and textures, with variations for any sort of weather. I'd have to say that if forced to choose one piece of clothing and one only, this would be the item to take to that proverbial desert island.
See more LeMuse here.
Incidentally, having found so many beautifully-crafted things on Etsy lately that come out of Vilnius in particular and Lithuania in general, I became curious and did a little google roadtrip. I'd have to say that Vilnius is now on my list of places I'd like to wander. Have you been there?
ps - Boots from TopShop. And this is the longest my child has ever worn a ponytail on top of her head.
Yes, this is yet another post about a gift that arrived unexpectedly in the post for Q.
Evelyne is a treasured friend whom I met only through the magical medium of the blogosphere.
Evelyne is a loving mother to beautiful daughters. She is a faithful friend even to those she has only come to know through their blogs. She is a beautiful and strong woman with a love of craft, a talented hand, and an impeccable eye for art and photography.
So when a package for Q arrived on our doorstep, posted by Evelyne in France, I knew that it would be something very special and heartfelt.
Q opened the lovely fabric and twine of the packaging with a little shudder of excitement, and unwrapped the trio of Waldorf-style dolls within with an appropriate measure of awe. With her tiny, agile fingers she pointed out the beautiful stitching.
I allowed her to explore the contents of Evelyne's package at her own speed, and, of her own accord, the very first thing she did was to clasp each doll's little arm and make them "hold hands". I thought that was so sweet, and so appropriate.
Many thanks, Evelyne, and much love sent your way. OX M & Q
As for me, I only wish I had inherited that high brow and symmetrical face, the thick, beauteous braid. In fact, I inherited very little of her other than the height. My hair is fine and flimsy, and I could never grow such a braid. I was not born with the privilege of that high, aristocratic brow. I do share the narrow lips, but my face has none of this clean, square, symmetrical beauty. In exchange, I have long and gorgeous limbs. Such is the random nature of genetics.
Every time I walk in here, I see these sculptural murals, and they spark a deeply-buried memory in me. This last time, I asked my mother about them. She told me that they were created by a family friend, Russian-born artist Anton Refregier, and installed with the help of my father. Refregier and my father both came from early years as muralists for the WPA (Works Progress Administration), and were peers in the local art community.
Isn't it a sweet mural? So reminiscent of a certain era, and yet it has stood the test of all these decades. Woodstock is rich with this kind of history, and it's this sort of environment that made it such a fascinating place to be a child. Prodigious talent was everywhere, in every ordinary moment of the day...scrawling on the back of napkins, lounging in an alley, strumming on a streetcorner, smoking outside the pinball palace, spending a night unbidden on your couch.
*A bit about Anton Refregier from wikipedia:
Refregier was born in Moscow and emigrated to the United States in 1920. After working various odd jobs, he earned a scholarship to the Rhode Island school of Design in 1921. After finishing school, Refregier moved back to New York in 1925. To earn a living, Refregier worked for interior decorators doing copies of Bouchers and Fragonards. He continued on his journey and traveled to Munich in 1927. While in there he studied under Hans Hofmann, who worked in abstract expression.
Refregier returned to New York during the late 1920s and lived in Croton-on-Hudson's Mount Airy artists' colony. In an interview Refregier referred to this time as the most wonderful period of his life in spite of the fact that it was wonderful in a peculiar way. He was referring to the depression of the 1930s. Refregier learned a lot about life during these times. He also learned about the United States economy and government.
Refregier found inspiration in tragic events. Refregier was quoted as saying that “the richer we [were] in possessions, the poorer we became in their enjoyment.” He said the amazing part of that period was the “human quality, the humanist attitude that [everyone] had” and the discovery that “the artist was not apart from the people.”
He struggled as a muralist until the government began the Works Progress Administration (later “Works Projects Administration”, WPA) in 1936 that helped create a sponsorship for the arts. When asked about the program Refregier said that it was “by the wisdom of one of the greatest Presidents we ever had, Roosevelt, it's common knowledge the WPA, a relief program, was established [because] it was necessary to protect the skills of the American people.” Refregier received $23.86 a week on the WPA rolls.
Refregier was a faculty member and Chairman of the Board at the American Artists School from 1937-38. Refregier began to gain notoriety and was given the opportunity to choose between two assignments for his first project. The WPA gave him the option of painting a courthouse or the children's ward of a hospital. Refregier chose the children's ward because did not want to have the pressure that came with designing artwork for a courthouse. He was assigned to work on Brooklyn's Green Point Hospital. The project took a little over a year to complete and involved five other contributing artists. After completing the hospital, Refregier's work progressed mainly to government-sponsored projects. These included the World's Fair Federal Works Buildings in the 1933 Chicago World's Fair and the Section of Fine Arts of the Public Building Administration in the Treasury Department. He also worked as a teacher, supervising artist, and mural supervisor.
It bears mentioning that this was during a deep freeze on the East Coast, and the temperatures were bitter. Granted, we in Colorado are spoiled by dry air (makes even the deepest cold feel milder), lots of sun, and temperate seasons. As I've said before, many people don't realize just how mild a climate Colorado really has..especially by comparison to New York! But this may help explain both the layers of heavy clothing, and, in part, the beauty of the scenery during these hikes.
Let me tell you it was worth the cold noses and toes, the layers of down and long underwear, and the oversized boots (which I had to borrow from my husband...good thing my feet are so big!)
Deep ice over deep water.
Exporing LaoLao's beautiful world.
Q in LaoLao's hat. Q looks good in every hat, but this outfit just kills me. Like something out of a fairytale. She really is from another world.
In fact, I think my favorite hangouts are well-documented already on this blog! Our beloved home being principal among them, of course. Then there's the local contemporary art museum, which I have probably already over-photographed.
So, I'm going to take a bit of a departure with this post and show you a place - a town rather - where I very much enjoyed hanging out during my highschool years on the East coast.
This is Rhinecliff, or what we Woodstockers called "the other side of the river". Said river being the Hudson. It's technically a "hamlet" inside the township of Rhinebeck. The Rhinebeck/Rhinecliff side of the river is famous for its rolling riverbank estates and sprawling historical mansions, and for its favor with many of the famous Hudson River Valley School painters of the mid 19th Century. The hamlet of Rhinecliff is quaint, artsy and historical. When I was in highschool, my mum and I used to cross the river of a free night to catch independent films at the local cinema. The outskirts of town are populated by some of the most amazing Victorian houses, and when we stopped on our way to the train station this last trip, I hopped out of the car to shoot a few photos.
This particular house, though its yellow paint makes it much sunnier than my depiction, inspired this painting which I've been working on for the past week, and prints of which will soon be available in my shop.
Stop by Jane's weekly for a list of more corner views around the blogosphere!
Q's animals have given it a new life...
..but my mum brought out a box especially for me, to wander back through the memories of my childhood. I believe that this rocker and the seesaw below were from a special toystore in Aspen that some friends took us to.
Some of the dolls were from Europe, and I think some of them were from a wonderful store in Woodstock called the Gilded Carriage, which still exists though I'm not sure they still carry dollhouse items.
The dolls are a bit the worse for wear, and some have been altered over the years by small hands,
but there's a beauty to things that have been reshaped by the imagination and loving hands of children over so many years.
These dolls populated so many stories and imagined adventures over the years, their soles worn down by treading the paths of many a glimmering fantasy world. I can no longer remember the stories, or the worlds that they wandered, by I hope they do...dreaming away in their box in my mother's attic.
If you had noticed the beautiful spotted feather on the table from my previous post, you might have wondered about the fantastical creature that might have worn such a feather. And in fact, it was a chicken. "Just" a chicken.
The feather came from the hat of a women who shared a table near ours during our meal. A woman who, as it turned out, was a Woodstock local, and a friend of my mother's. After her meal, she stopped by our table to meet my mother's family, and in the end she gifted Q with a feather from her marvelous hat...a feather that had belonged to one of the chickens that she raises outside of her home.
That was just one of the magical things that tend to happen in a creative and community-oriented place like Oriole9. The place always surprises and delights us.
Thanks Nina, and Mila and Luc, for the wonderful experiences.
btw I fully intend to emulate your example by creating a large chalkboard-type-device on one of the walls of our home, so that Q might have the opportunity to draw on the walls on a regular (and fully approved) basis.
I find it so lovely and somehow abstract a set of images that I had to take a moment to post it now that it has re-emerged from my files.
Some of you may remember one of these shots from cards that I sent out with my holiday orders.
In any case...just darling depictions of Q's exuberant soul.
Everything in this place is artfully designed for a peaceful, fulfilling and relaxing meal.
The children's corner, in particular, is a favorite of ours, and we had the opportunity to let Q spend some time there with the owners' lovely son Mila.
Mila and his mom were so sweet as to bring Q the gift of a bouncy ball filled with glittery snow, which M and Q proceeded to pass back and forth. You can see Qs hands positioning themselves for an anticipated catch. She's still working on catching (though her throwing arm is on a par with that of a pro)and it breaks my heart to see her hoping against hope to see a pass come her way.
Mila is all boy, and his chalkboard style demonstrates that to a T.
Mila's beautiful mom, my erstwhile gradeschool mate, showing Q her lovely necklace.