Thursday, July 28, 2016

Abigail's Patio Review: 315 Restaurant

Happy summer, everyone!  It's been a busy one here (hence the much too long lag time on this blog!), and a scorcher, but there's been time for outdoor music, poolside reading, and best of all--summer patio dining!  Living in Santa Fe has been great for Abigail, since she is welcome on almost any restaurant's patio (a very dog-friendly town!)

Last month, we spent Memorial Day at Abby's favorite place, 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar (be sure and check out their website here!)  Why is her favorite, you ask?  A spacious, shady patio, very friendly waitstaff (who always remember her name and ask about her when we dine there without her), extensive wine list (though it's been an almost all rose, all time summer for me), classic French bistro food and interesting specials (go right now--it's squash blossom season!), yummy desserts.  Tuesdays are half-price wine night (any bottle is half off, so a good time to splurge a bit!), so that's our 315 night of the week.  Nothing better than some steak frites, some chilled rose, and a Santa Fe sunset.  Take a little walk around the plaza after and indulge in some summertime people-watching!



Abby gives it 4 out of 5 barks (because sometimes the service is a little uncoordinated, and Poodle perfection is hard to find...)

Friday, June 03, 2016

Heroine of the Weekend: Queen Elizabeth II

This year is all about the queen!  With her Diamond Jubilee so recently behind us, and her 90th birthday this year, we're seeing a lot about Queen Elizabeth, and I love it.  She is certainly a great heroine, who has devoted her long life to hard work and service, and long may she reign.  We all know the details of her life, so I thought it would be fun to take a look at a few trivia facts...
 She speaks fluent French and often uses the language for audiences and state visits. She does not require an interpreter.
She's received over 3.5 million items of correspondence during her reign.
Since 1952, she has conferred over 404,500 honors and awards.
Queen Elizabeth II is Britain's 40th monarch since William the Conqueror was crowned.
About 1.5 million people have attended garden parties at Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland since Elizabeth has been on the throne.
Over the course of her reign, she has given regular Tuesday-evening audiences to 12 British Prime Ministers, starting with Winston Churchill
She is patron of more than 600 charities and organizations.
In the past 60 years, the Queen has undertaken 261 official overseas visits, including 96 state visits, to 116 different countries.
In 2005, she claimed ownership of 88 cygnets (young swans) on the River Thames. They are looked after by a swan marker. The first royal swan keeper was appointed around the 12th century.  Technically, the Queen still owns the sturgeons, whales and dolphins in the waters around the U.K. A statute from 1324, during the reign of King Edward II, states, "Also the King shall have ... whales and sturgeons taken in the sea or elsewhere within the realm." This statute is still valid today, and sturgeons, porpoises, whales and dolphins are recognized as "fishes royal"
The Queen joined Facebook in November 2010, with a page called the British Monarchy, which features royal news, photos, videos and speeches. (I doubt she will play Candy Crush, though)
Elizabeth was the first British monarch to celebrate her diamond wedding anniversary.
 Elizabeth has sent more than 175,000 telegrams to centenarians in the U.K. and the Commonwealth, and more than 540,000 telegrams to couples in the U.K. and the Commonwealth celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.
 In an average year, the Queen hosts more than 50,000 people at banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and garden parties at Buckingham Palace. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have sent over 37,500 Christmas cards during her reign and she has given out approximately 90,000 Christmas puddings to staff, continuing the custom of King George V and King George VI. In addition, the Queen gives her entire staff gifts at Christmastime
Elizabeth learned to drive in 1945, when she joined the women's branch of the British army. Both she and Winston Churchill's daughter were members of the group, which was called the Auxiliary Territorial Service.  She was a Girl Guide (1937), a Scouting movement for girls and a Sea Ranger (1943), a section of the Girl Guides focused on sailing.
An important innovation during her reign was the opening in 1962 of a new gallery at Buckingham Palace to display items from the royal collection. The brainchild of the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen's Gallery occupied the palace's bomb-damaged private chapel. It was the first time that parts of the palace had been opened to the general public.
 The only time the Queen has had to interrupt an overseas tour was in 1974, during a tour of Australia and Indonesia. She was called back from Australia when a general election was announced suddenly. The Duke of Edinburgh continued the program in Australia, and Elizabeth rejoined the tour in Indonesia.
She has opened Parliament every year except 1959 and 1963, when she was expecting her children Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, respectively.
She went on her first state visit as Princess Elizabeth to South Africa with her mother and father, then King and Queen, from February to May 1947. The tour included Zimbabwe, Bechuanaland, Swaziland and Basutoland (now Lesotho). The Princess celebrated her 21st birthday in Cape Town. Her first state visit as Queen was to Kenya: her father King George VI died, and she acceded the throne during the tour, which had to be abandoned.  Her first Commonwealth tour began on Nov. 24, 1953, and included visits to Bermuda, Jamaica, Panama, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, the Cocos Islands, Ceylon, Aden, Uganda, Libya, Malta and Gibraltar. The total distance covered was 43,618 miles (70,196 km).
Elizabeth has owned more than 30 corgis during her reign, starting with Susan, who was a present for her 18th birthday in 1944. A good proportion of these have been direct descendants from Susan. Elizabeth currently has five corgis: Emma, Linnet, Monty, Holly and Willow.  She takes a keen interest in horses and racing. Her first pony, a Shetland called Peggy, was given to her by her grandfather King George V when she was 4 years old. Elizabeth continues to ride at Sandringham, Balmoral and Windsor. The Queen also takes interest in horse breeding. Horses bred at the royal studs over the past 200 years have won virtually every major race in Britain. Elizabeth has about 25 horses in training each season.
As a young girl, Elizabeth acted in a number of pantomimes during World War II, including playing Prince Florizel in Cinderella in 1941. The productions took place every year in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle..
The last and only other British monarch to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee was Queen Victoria in 1897, at the age of 77. At 86, Queen Elizabeth will be the oldest monarch to celebrate this occasion.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Heroine of the Weekend: Madame de Sevigne

This weekend we take a quick look at one of the most famous and erudite letter-writers in history, Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, the Marquise de Sevigne, who died on April 17, 1696.  She's known now as one of the most representative figures of the Enlightenment.

Born February 5, 1626 to an old, aristocratic family, she found herself an orphan by the age of 7, and was raised by her maternal grandparents and uncle, who gave her an excellent education.  She was married on August 4, 1644 to another scion of an old family, Henri, the marquis de Sevigne of Brittany, who had an ancient name but not much fortune.  The marriage produced two children, Francoise (b. 1646), who would be the recipient of most of her mother's famous letters, and Charles (b. 1648), but her husband died in a duel over his mistress in 1651.  Marie never remarried, devoting herself to her children and the intellectual life of the Paris salons.

In 1669, her beloved daughter married the comte de Grignon, who was soon appointed governor of Provence, and in their separation the stream of letters began, where the two discoursed about religion, philosophy, government, and the arts as well as family matters.  Buy 1673, the letters were being circulated and widely read.

According to the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Sevigne's moral psychology explores the amatory structure of human desire and the difficulty of accepting one’s mortality. Representative of neoclassicism, her philosophy of art privileges the values of harmony, proportion, and balance. An avid reader of theological and philosophical works, she provides a running commentary on the theories of her favorite contemporary authors. Her letters reflect the intellectual sophistication of the period’s salon culture, where the philosophical controversies spawned by Cartesianism had become the object of everyday discussion.

For more info on her fascinating life, I like Francis Mossiker's Madame de Sevigne: a Life and Letters (1983)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Abigail's Patio Reviews: Upper Crust Pizza

Last night, Abigail visited one of her favorite casual spots around Santa Fe (and very near her beloved Plazaland, for walking off some of the pizza and wine after!), Upper Crust Pizza.  She gives it 4 barks out of 5, for the excellent pizza with a wide array of premium ingredients (faves include kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and goat cheese), and their lovely whole wheat crust.  It doesn't hurt that they have (very) full pours of wine, including her mama's beloved Gruet Chardonnay.

The location is lovely, with a long portal fronting Old Santa Fe Trail where there is great people (and dog) watching, in a portion of "the oldest home in America" (built in the 17th/18th century), with twisty little adobe rooms.  Live music and fun employees make it even better.  (and it's very dog friendly).  Abby especially recommends the great lunch specials (3.99 for a slice, drink, and salad??!!)

Check them out here, and join Abigail for pizza and wine some night soon....

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Abigail's Patio Reviews: The Teahouse

There are so, so many things we've loved about Santa Fe since moving to Santa Fe last year!  Beautiful weather, the mountains, art and music, interesting people, great food.  One of the best is the way so many restaurants have patios, and thy don't just allow dogs, they love them!  Our little Poodle fur-baby, Abigail, loves it now that the weather is getting warm again and she can visit her favorite spots.  It's especially good for her now that she has a stroller, and can see the table and be part of the party!

She started the season today, with a walk up Canyon Road and lunch at The Teahouse.  Abigail gives them 3 out of 5 Barks.  Pluses: a pretty garden that welcomes dogs (there were at least 6 other puppies for her to meet!), an extensive tea menu (dozens of teas, all varieties--we tried an Imperial Grade Sencha, light and delicate, and a nice, smoky Lapsang Souchong, I like it the stronger the better), and tasty food (a simple lunch, a panini and a beet/goat cheese salad).  Minuses: a very long wait and slow service, which seems par for the course there.  If you have time for a leisurely meal, and just want to sit around with your dog in the shade, it's great.  If you're on a quick work lunch, not so much.



Abigail says she now looks forward to sharing all her favorite patios with you this spring. :)

The website for The Teahouse

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Heroine of the Weekend--Empress Marie Feodorovna

Happy Easter, everyone!  I am taking a small break from stuffing myself with Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs (the most perfect food in the world) to take a look at another heroine, the vivacious and courageous Dowager Empress Marie of Russia (owner of the gorgeous Winter Egg).

She was born, as all fairy princesses should be, in a palace, as Princess Dagmar of Denmark, second daughter of King Christian IX (the first being the future Queen Alexandra of England, Dagmar's lifelong best friend).  The family was relatively poor as far as royal families went, but were very close to each other, and had a lighthearted time together.  Dagmar loved to swim and ride, play cards, and collect dogs.  In 1864, she became betrothed to the Tsarevich Nicholas of Russia ("Nixa") a handsome and sensitive young man, whom she sincerely loved.  Sadly, he died in April of 1865, leaving Dagmar broken-hearted.  She was comforted by letters from Nicholas's brother, Alexander, and in June 1866 she accepted his proposal.  They were married in a lavish ceremony at the Winter Palace on November 9, after she converted to Orthodoxy and was named Marie Feodorovna.  Of the wedding night, her new husband wrote, I took off my slippers and my silver embroidered robe and felt the body of my beloved next to mine... How I felt then, I do not wish to describe here. Afterwards we talked for a long time

Welcomed by her new win-laws, the new Grand Duchess quickly made herself very popular in Russia.  Pretty, outgoing, fashionable, she became a leader of Society as well as renowned for her charitable activities (especially the founding of new hospitals and orphanages, as well as patronizing the arts), she was exactly what the country wanted.  She also quickly did her foremost duty of heir-producing.  Nicholas was born in May 1868, followed by Alexander in 1869 (who died in infancy), George, Xenia, Michael, and Olga (1882).  She proved a loving if slightly commanding mother (much like her sister Alexandra).

In March 1881, tragedy struck.  Her father-in-law, Alexander II, was assassinated, leaving Marie with sharp, lifelong anxieties for her family--Our happiest and serenest times are now over. My peace and calm are gone, for now I will only ever be able to worry about Sasha.

She was crowned with her husband on May 27, 1883, in a lavish ceremony at the Kremlin, attended by over 8000 guests, including her sister, who stayed for many weeks.  After, the Imperial family moved to Gatchina, a 900-room palace a few miles outside St. Petersburg for security reasons.  Marie missed the lively city life, the balls and theaters, though her husband preferred the quieter, more spartan life of Gatchina.  Despite their different temperments, they loved each other all their marriage, and had a very successeful union.

But it wasn't one that last as long as she would have liked.  By 1894, it was clear that the formerly robust tsar was very ill,   The choice of wife by their son Nicholas also had them worried.  Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt, granddaughter of Queen Victoria, was beautiful, but also shy, retiring, and in poor health most of the time, not strong enough for the challenges of life in Russia.  But Nicholas was in love, and reluctantly his parents agreed to the engagements.  Marie would never have much in common with her daughter-in-law, and often disapproved of her behavior, but the couple were married a week after Alexander's funeral.

Marie was still the leader of Society, since Alexandra seldom cared to take precedence, and she also often traveled abroad.  In 1906, she and her sister bought a danish villa, Hvidore, which would prove to be her last home.  In 1914, she was in England when war broke out, and rushed back to Russia.  There she threw herself into the war effort, becoming president of the Russian Red Cross and outfitting hospital trains.  In 1916, concerned about the evil effects of Rasputin on her son's family and unable to reason with him, she moved to Kiev, and it was from there that she fled to the Crimea when revolution exploded.  At first, she refused to leave Russia, sure that rumors her son was dead were not true, until her sister persuaded her to come to England.  King George sent the warship "Marlborough" to fetch his aunt, and she left with other relatives, carrying one Faberge egg with her, in 1919.



She made her home in Denmark, a leader of the Russian exiles, and always hoped her son would prove to be alive.  She still believed that when she herself died, October 13, 1928, and was buried at Roskilde Cathedral.  In 2006, her dearest wish was finally carried out, and she was reburied next to her husband in the Cathedral of Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg.

I love Marie for her energy, style, and level-headed intelligence, and also feel heartbroken for her in all the sorrow she had at the end of her life.

A great source for more about her is Coryne Hall's Little Mother of Russia: A Biography of Empress Marie Feodorovna (2006)


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Happy Easter! And A New Blog Day

It's been much, much too long since I've visited this little blog of mine, and I've found lately that I really miss it (especially getting to discover and research some heroines in history).  It's a great break from deadline writing, so I am back here again, hopefully starting out with a couple posts a week, and maybe a giveaway or two in the near future.

To start out--happy Easter weekend, everyone!  I love this time of year, when the flowers start to peek out, the trees start to bud, and little girls wear their fluffy holiday dresses and white shoes (I always insisted on getting my spring clothes Easter weekend, even if it was still 40 degrees outside!).  To celebrate, here's a little look at my very favorite Easter egg of all--Faberge's Winter Egg of 1913.

From 1885 to just before 1917, the workshops of Faberge created two Imperial Easter eggs every year, one each for the tsar's mother, Dowager Empress Marie, and his wife, Empress Alexandra.  (There were a handful of non-royal eggs, as well).  Out of about 50 made, 43 are known to survive, and each one is an exquisite masterpiece.  My personal favorite is the Winter Egg, made for Empress Marie in 1913.  At the time, it was the most expensive of the eggs, costing 25,000 rubles (about $12,000); it vanished for many years, only to be bought in 2002 by the Emir of Qatar for 6.4 million pounds.

The Winter Egg was designed by Alma Pihl, the only female designer at Faberge, and was created from rock crystal fashioned to look like ice patterns, on a crystal base that appeared to be melting.  It used 1660 diamonds to create a snow-like sparkle.  The "surprise" inside the egg was a basket of flowers made of quartz on a bed of gold moss, made with 1378 more diamonds.  It's very elegant, just like the Dowager Empress herself (who is a favorite of mine!)

Here's a great overview of all the known Easter eggs.  Which is your favorite??