Saturday, April 14, 2018

Bijoux Parisiens: A French Jewelry Exhibition

Bijoux Parisiens is an exhibition of French jewelry from the 17th to the 20th centuries. The jewelry is from the Petit Palais, an art museum located in Paris, in the 8th arrondissement.

My sister and I are both jewelry lovers so we decided to attend the exhibition when it came to town. The display included rings, brooches, necklaces, bracelets, diadems, purses, hair combs and fashion illustrations. I could have literally spent hours just staring at each piece, soaking in not only the beauty, but the incredible craftsmanship as well. Here are some of my favorite pieces.


This is a Victory Brooch to celebrate the end of World War II, by Van Cleef and Arpels, from about 1945. It's made from sapphires, diamonds, rubies, gold and platinum. It's absolutely gorgeous! This piece was commissioned by Joseph Becker, a French Resistance fighter, for his wife. The colors are those of the French flag, with the Cross of Lorraine in the middle of the brooch.


Georges Fouquet created this beautiful diadem, circa 1910. It's made from diamonds, aquamarines, gold and enamel. This headband was designed to be worn either around the forehead or on top of the head.


This piece is called Dandelion Brooch with Hairpin, made by Debut and Coulon, from the 1880s. The hairpin is made from a tortoise shell, while the brooch is made from gold, silver, platinum, diamonds and swan feathers. The design of this brooch is amazing. All the stamens of the flower are flexible and the downy feathers of a swan are set alongside the diamonds. (page 94)


Husson designed this Brooch, from the 1880s. It's made from gold, diamonds, emeralds and enamel, measuring 1 5/8 and 1 1/4 inches. Check out the detail that went into the crafting of this piece. A cherub, again carrying a torch,  opens the procession, followed by a tambourine player and flautists. Two floral motifs surround the tableau and enclose it in a Renaissance style frame enhanced with gemstone florets. Floral covered chalices emerge from garlands of diamonds and teardrop emeralds add the finishing touches to this fin de siecle jewel. (page 73)


An unusual piece with a ram's head, by the Maison Mellerio (1875-1880), was probably commissioned for someone privately. In Ram Brooch with Chain- whether apparition from beyond the world we know or the figment of a tormented imagination- the artist captured an otherworldly effect in the carving of the head and the animal's dilated eyes. The more restrained chain is made from alternating gilded pearls with other pearls covered with iridescent beetle wings. The unusual materials, the evanescent color, and the nonconformity of the design all suggest that this extraordinary work was designed to appeal to an eccentric elite with a taste for excess. (page 80)


In 1880, Lucien Falize created this bracelet in the Gothic style. The bracelet was made with diamonds, gold and turquoise. The colors are so vibrant in person, especially the turquoise.


Rene Lalique created this exquisite brooch around 1900. It measures 1 1/4 by 2 inches. Are you ready for this? It's made from an oyster shell! Lalique inlaid the shell with gold, then engraved these two fierce-looking birds, whose beaks meet perfectly over a pearl.


This Nasturtium Comb was also created by Rene Lalique. He designed this comb to reflect the seasons. It's made from an animal horn, silver and enamel. It measures 5 1/2 by 3 5/8 inches.


Of course, I had to buy the exhibition book! It's filled with all the items and illustrations that were on display. It's a total treasure trove! All  italicized descriptions are direct quotes from the book.


Thanks for joining me today!
Michelle

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Girl on the Train

If you're looking for a psychological thriller that you won't want to put down, then The Girl on the Train is the book for you. This is the first fictional book published under the author's real name, Paula Hawkins. She also writes under the pseudonym of Amy Silver.

The Girl on the Train is told from the perspective of three different women: Rachel, Megan and Anna. Rachel is the main protagonist and the girl on the train. She's a lonely, divorced woman with a serious drinking problem. She suffers from black-outs and does things like call her ex-husband or show up on his doorstep while intoxicated.


Every morning and evening, she rides the train into London for her job. The train stops briefly each morning behind Rachel's old neighborhood, where she and her husband Tom lived before the divorce. Now Tom lives there with his new wife Anna (the third narrator of the story), and their new child, while Rachel rents a room from a former college friend, Cathy. The few months she expected to reside there has turned into two long years.

Four houses away from her old home, a "perfect, golden couple" live, whom Rachel has named Jess and Jason. Jess, who's really Megan, is the second female narrator of the novel. Rachel's become obsessed with this beautiful couple, always looking for them when the train stops on the tracks. From her seat, Rachel imagines how Jess and Jason live their lives, what their hobbies might be along with their occupations. Then one day, Jess disappears. Rachel's pulled into the investigation and the plot begins its suspenseful twists and turns.

I thought that The Girl on the Train was a very, good read.  It has a Hitchcockian feel to it a la Rear Window with its voyeuristic tendencies; instead of a photojournalist laid up with a broken leg in a wheelchair, we have a depressed drunk seated on a train. Quite a few times, I wanted to reach into the book and shake Rachel. Everyone lies in this book and the reader doesn't know who to trust. For me, this book was an addictive page turner, engrossing and well-paced. I couldn't wait to find out what happened on the next page and how the story ended.

The author, Paula Hawkins, revealed in an interview her premise for writing this book:   I’ve done lots of train journeys, and I’ve always thought how interesting it would be if you actually got to witness something. Because you never really do – I’ve never seen anything interesting! You look at these houses, and most of the time you never see people; you see things that maybe bring images to mind – for example, toys in the back garden that have been abandoned – and that starts you thinking about something.

In addition to being a bestseller, The Girl on the Train has also been made into a movie, premiering October 7th, with Emily Blunt in the lead as Rachel. More info on the movie can be found here. 


Thanks for stopping by,
Michelle



Saturday, September 3, 2016

Back on Weight Watchers

Today, my blog post is about re-starting Weight Watchers. Recently, I noticed that my eating habits were getting out of control, I mean waaaayyy out of control, so I decided to start using the Weight Watchers Points System again. Many, many years ago, I successfully used the WW Points System and lost 25 pounds in 4 months. A couple of years later, I re-joined WW to lose a few more pounds. But I really wasn't in the right mind-set to stick with the program and basically wasted my money. This time around, instead of rejoining, I decided to do it on my own and dug out my old Weight Watchers paraphernalia.



The points system is a really great system because no food is off limit. You can eat anything you want as long as you stay within your point range. The point range is based on how much an individual weighs. Since I was a member all those years ago, WW has changed its system a bit and they now use a new method of calculating food points and daily point intake. Instead of using WW's current points system, I decided to stick with what I know, so I'm using the old method of calculating points.

I haven't paid attention to what I've been eating in years and I knew limiting my food intake would be really hard. I thought the best thing would be to ease myself back into the program with 30 points per day the first week and then reduce that amount by 2 points each week until I attain my goal of eating only 22 points per day. There was no way I could just cold-turkey start at 22 points per day.

Here's how my week panned out:
Day 1 -- Tuesday, 8/23 -- 29 points
Day 2 -- Wednesday -- 26 points
Day 3 -- Thursday -- 23 points
Day 4 -- Friday -- 26 points
Day 5 -- Saturday -- 29 points
Day 6 -- Sunday -- 21 points
Day 7 -- Monday -- 21 points

My goal is to lose 15 pounds by Thanksgiving. When I weighed myself this past Tuesday, my weight was down 7.5 pounds in only 7 days! I am already at my halfway point. I expected to lose only 2 to 3 pounds during Week 1 because this time around I won't be able to exercise due to some health problems. Apparently, there are 1,000 year old skeletons with better bone density than myself. My knees, back and neck are shot, which means no more hitting the treadmill for an hour or running up/down steps and a whole lot of other restrictions I won't go into right now.



When I originally did the points, I exercised Monday through Friday with a routine of an hour on the treadmill, followed by (every other day) crunches, leg and arm work. So losing weight for me this time around will be even more challenging than if I could exercise.

I'm feeling pretty confident that I can achieve my 15 pound goal by Thanksgiving by keeping to my daily points. My philosophy is simply to take it one day at a time.

For anyone interested in the points system, there's a website with a calculator to help determine the points according to the WW points system.  Also, here's a link to the Weight Watchers official site.




Tuesday, December 23, 2014

White Christmas ~ Tea Cup Style

I can scarcely believe that tomorrow is Christmas Eve and then Christmas the day after. Just like Bing Crosby sings, I wish we could have a White Christmas... well, as long as the snow is on the grass and the roads are clear, I hope we have the whitest one ever!
 
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the tree tops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow
 

This week I'm sharing a white tea cup and saucer set made by Duchess China. I believe I've shared this cup before, but couldn't help sharing again as it's my only white cup. It's also my only solid color tea cup.


Silver is one of my favorite colors and all of my white Christmas-y items are trimmed in silver, which I know clashes just the tiniest bit with my gold-trimmed tea cup.

 
In the meadow we can build a snowman
And pretend that he is Parson Brown
He'll say are you married
We'll say No Man
But you can do the job
When you're in town

 

 
I love collecting snowmen. This guy is so cute with his little bucket of snowballs for sale. I found him at Hallmark a few years ago... the day after Christmas, when he was half off... which is of course the best time to buy stuff!
 
 
 

 The bottom of the cup and saucer both bear the Duchess name and stamp.
 
 
In addition to Snowmen, I have a Santa Claus collection. I finally stopped buying Santas about five years ago as there's not enough room to display all of the ones I currently have. So I only pull out a few each year. I can't remember where I bought this guy, but he's quite rotund and jolly.
 



Merry Christmas to you and your family!

I'm linking up to:
Tea Cup Tuesday at Martha's Favorites
Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage
Tuesday Cuppa Tea at Aniques and Teacups


Thanks so much for stopping by!
Michelle

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Tea Cup and Saucer

I'm so excited... there are only nine days left until Christmas Day! I have two more people to buy gifts for and then I'm done. How are you doing on your shopping?
 
 
Today I'm sharing my second Christmas tea cup and saucer set. I shared the first one two weeks ago. This one is also by Royal Albert. It's part of their "Flower of the Month" series. It's called "Holly" and comes in at #12 in the series.

 

The front and back of the cup feature the same design and the gold trim is still in excellent condition after all these years. The holly berries and leaves are handpainted. The cool thing about this design is that the red berries are raised, so you feel them when touching the china.
 


Here comes Santa Claus,
Here come Santa Claus,
Right down Santa Claus lane.
 
I love collecting Santas, especially the ones with an old-fashioned look to them. I found this guy at Home Goods a few years ago.


And I made some delicious homemade, chocolate chip cookies! I never shape the cookie balls before baking. I just plop the dough onto the baking sheet so that I can have the homemade look to my cookies. Here's my recipe for my chocolate chip cookies. The recipe makes about three to four dozen, depending on how big/small you want your cookies to be.



 
 
I'm linking up to:
Tea Cup Tuesday at Martha's Favorites
Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage
 
Thanks for stopping by today,

Michelle 
 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Royal Albert Christmas Tea Cup

December, at last! Thanksgiving to New Year's Day is my favorite time of the year and Christmas is my favorite holiday, hands down. I love all the food, the extra family time, getting the house and the yard decorated, listening to all the great Christmas songs out there and celebrating the birth of Jesus. 
 

This week I'm sharing a lovely Royal Albert tea cup and saucer set. I found this set at a yard sale for only $1.00! I couldn't believe it. I'm never lucky like that with tea cups, so I immediately snatched it right up.


The name of this pattern is South Pacific. I'm not sure why a Poinsettia pattern is called South Pacific, so I decided to google the flower to see if that's where it's from. I discovered that the Poinsettia is native to Mexico and was once used by the Aztecs to make colored dye. It was brought to the United States by Joel Roberts Poinsett and named after him.


I'm crazy for handles and I love this tea cup's handle with its gold design. Below's a picture of the interior of the cup. I love when china makers add floral designs inside the cups. The coloring on this set is really vivid in person, especially the red.


 A little angel that I just love!


This adorable couple that we all know as Mr. and Mrs. Claus was a ceramic project that my mom did about 10-15 years ago.


The marking on the bottom of the saucer reads: Royal Albert, Bone China, England, South Pacific.

 
 
I'd never heard the story of why the poinsettia's so closely associated with Christmas and came across this legend of the flower, from WhyChristmas:
 
"There was once a poor Mexican girl called Pepita who had no present to give the the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked to the chapel, sadly, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up. 'Pepita', he said "I'm sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him will make Jesus Happy."

Pepita didn't know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only give this small present to Jesus. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, knelt down and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene.

Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the 'Flores de Noche Buena', or 'Flowers of the Holy Night'.

The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity."
 

I'm linking up to:
Tea Cup Tuesday at Martha's Favorites 
Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage
Tuesday Cuppa Tea

Thanks for stopping by today,
Michelle

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Disappeared by Kristina Ohlsson

I always love when I find a book that's so good, I don't want to stop reading. Kristina Ohlsson has written such a book in The Disappeared.  A college student named Rebecca goes missing on her way to a party and now, two years later, her body's been found buried and dismembered in the woods. The police keep digging and discover that Rebecca isn't the only body in the grave.


There's a quite a few suspects in the murder of Rebecca that the police need to narrow down. And what about that second body in the grave? Forensics date this body's death at least thirty years ago. Is this the work of a serial killer? Are there more bodies buried here? As the police work on the suspect list, several of the characters' lives become intertwined with each other in unsuspecting ways.

Our heroine is Fredrika Bergman, an investigative analyst, who's just returned from maternity leave early because her live-in boyfriend's been suspended from his job as a college professor. As Fredrika delves into Rebecca's past, she discovers that at the time of her disappearance, Rebecca had been doing research for her thesis paper on a children's writer named Thea Aldrin. Aldrin had spent time in prison for murder and was suspected in the disappearance of her own son. Now out of prison and residing in an assisted-living complex, the police can't question her as she's chosen to be mute and refuses to speak.

There are two male protagonists. The first is Fredrika's boss, Alex Recht; recently widowed and still mourning the loss of his wife. Alex originally worked Rebecca's missing person case and still keeps in touch with the young woman's mother. Then there's Peder Rydh, a colleague of Fredrika's and on the investigative team searching for Rebecca's murderer.

Ohlsson has skillfully woven together a complex tale of suspense. There are so many layers created by the author that the reader finds herself swept up into the lives of all the characters; each layer providing more detail to the story.

I really enjoyed reading The Disappeared. It's one of the best murder mysteries I've read in awhile. Not only that, but it's part of a series. So far, this is the only one I've read (and it works out fine as a stand-alone book), but I'm excited to go back and read the other ones by Ohlsson.


Thanks for stopping by today,
Michelle