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Otomi Fabric

Otomi Fabric

I had a very brief trip to Mexico City for work. I really wanted some Otomi fabric, hand-embroidered fabrics. I was inspired by photos like this:

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Here is what I bought:

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This small piece of Otomi in the photo above will get framed. I just love to burro.

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The piece above is about 7 feet long, maybe 18 inches wide? I got it for about $30, which was a great price, I think. I had originally intended to use it as a table runner, but my mom told me that Otomi doesn’t wash well. Apparently the colors from the thread run and get all over the white fabric. So instead, I will also use it as a wall hanging. The colors are just incredible.

IMG_1871Finally, I bought this serape blanket for about $20 (probably overpaid, since I bought it at the airport with my remaining pesos). It’s really soft and the colors are also just great. I think I will use it in the yellow-floored attic guest room.

I think Mexico is my spirit country – Mexican food is my favorite food in the world and the folk arts and colors just speak to my soul. I really hope I get to spend more time in Mexico City in the future. I was really impressed.

Besos y Abrazos,

Rachel

 

Prague. ‘Nuff said.

Prague. ‘Nuff said.

Prague is truly wonderful. It’s one of those places that you hear people talk about and you think it must be overrated, because how could a small city in the middle of the Czech Republic really be that charming? But it is. My words don’t do it justice, so I am just uploading a bunch of pictures.

 

 

I had one of the best meals of my LIFE in Prague, at the Hotel Europa (in the restaurant, not the cafe). Unfortunately, we were all so famished by the time we sat down to dinner that no one took pictures but inhaled this incredible meal rather quickly. I highly recommend the steak.

The astrological clock – keeps track of about 13 different things (time, calendar, zodiak, saints’ birthdays, etc).

Prague is more colorful and charming than Vienna, even though Vienna is beautiful. Also, things in Prague are really inexpensive. That aforementioned best meal of my life? Well, it only costs about $20 per person including wine.

 

 

 

 

How freaking beautiful is that?

 

The facade of this building is just incredible. It’s completely flat, but it looks textured because of the geometric pattern of the plaster on the outside.

Around every corner in Prague is something more beautiful than what you had just seen. It wasn’t just lovely in one area, but basically everywhere.

With love,

Rachel

The Hills Really Are Alive with the Sound of Music.

The Hills Really Are Alive with the Sound of Music.

Yeah, the Hills in Salzburg are definitely alive with the Sound of Music. That may or may not have something to do with the fact that I rode a bicycle about a million miles through Salzburg singing all the songs from that beloved movie.

Purple rain jacket and purple bike! Like I planned it.

For those who don’t know, Salzburg, Austria, is the location of the Sound of Music. Being a BIG Sound of Music fan, when my friend was visiting, we knew that taking Freulein Maria’s Bicycle Tour of Salzburg was a must.

View of Salzburg and the fort from the bridge.

What we didn’t know was that Salzburg is the 7th or 9th rainiest city in THE WORLD. It rained for all five hours that we were on our bikes. Once we stopped biking, it stopped raining.

The children march past this horse facade in the movie.

The tour takes you to film locations from the movie, and includes funny anecdotes about the filming.

The cloister gardens where the family hides from the Nazis.

The church refused to let the movie makers actually film the crypts, so an exact replica was built in Hollywood where the scene was filmed (you know, were the family are hiding behind the tomb stones and Rolph comes with the flashlight/whistle).

These are the caged crypts where the Von Trapp family awaited their fate (which are inside the cloister gardens).

The abbey gate. But really: How do you solve a problem like Maria?

The Von Trapp House!!!! Complete with duckies!

The Gazebo where “16 going on 17” takes place, and also were Captain proposes to Maria, and then the couple sings “Something Good.”

After five hours on a bike, in the rain, we were quite cold and hungry. So we set out to have a hot delicious lunch. I had the gulash, which comes with a friend egg and a giant bread dumpling. Despite the hours of freezing cold, the tour was pretty awesome. I highly recommend it. Though, you should bring a poncho!

This will warm you right up.

So long! Farewell! Aufwiedersehn! Good night!
Mit liebe,

Rachel

Klimt – Up Close and Personal

Klimt – Up Close and Personal

Gustav Klimt was kinda awesome. And the Klimt exhibit currently at the Leopold Museum, Klimt – Up Close and Personal, in Vienna is also kinda awesome.

The courtyard at Museumsquartier, where the Leopold is located. The bright colorful things are benches/chairs/tables for people to sit and enjoy the scene.

The Leopold

Stormy weather, but still an undeniably beautiful public space.

Not only does the Leopold have some of Klimt’s most incredible paintings, but the curators managed to track down hundreds (HUNDREDS!) of post cards that Klimt scribbled, sometimes as many as ten per day, to his dear friend, Emilie. Most of his postcards are about the weather, or what he ate for a dinner, or just a few thoughts that popped into his head. They are essentially the pre- and during-WWII equivalent of text messages, and were a wonderful glimpse into thoughts running through Klimt’s head.

Letter that Klimt wrote to his life-long friend, Emilie. I love his fascinating sketches and wonderfully eccentric handwriting. I makes me want to resume the lost of art of postcard-text messaging.

Death and Life

Lake Attersee (My Favorite – it’s Even More Brilliant in Person)

Der Goldene Ritter

The Big Poplar II

Klimt was a man who painted without an underlying motive, without pushing some major theory. He often said he was more interested in painting beautiful things than conveying some bigger thematic meaning. He also had many cats, which wandered freely through his studio. Rumor has it that he told his students that cat paw prints and occasional urine on his sketches were not a problem – they were really improvements. It was unclear if he was joking or not, and despite hygiene problems, I love this lighthearted approach to painting beautiful things.

Gustav Klimt and a Cat, that may or may not have improved upon his sketches. He is also wearing one of those long Chinese-style robes, and nothing else…

Though he mocked his art, Klimt was a successful painter during his lifetime, and received large sums for his paintings.

During the summer, Klimt only wore long Chinese-style dressing gowns, with nothing underneath. Secret-revealing time: That is BY FAR the best way to paint. In the buff, or semi-buff. If I had a long Chinese-style dressing gown, I would wear it to paint too.

Klimt was one of the founders of the Secession movement, a group of influential painters trying to break out of more conventional art molds. This (below) is a lovely poster for the group, that I believe was drawn by Klimt, but right now I cannot really remember.

I have so much more to tell, because I was incredibly moved by this exhibit. There is also more awesome stuff that was on exhibit at the Leopold Museum, but I think I will share that with you later.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post. I want to finish by saying that I was never moved by Klimt before – the most famous works that everyone knew didn’t really speak to me – but this exhibit left me screaming to get out my paints, dying to put his techniques on canvas. If you haven’t been to see it yet, and have a chance, I highly recommend it. And I recommend wearing long gowns commando-style.

Lieben and painting,

Rachel

Suits and Aprons Arrives in Vienna

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Are you as excited as I am? I mean, I am pretty darned excited. But I did tell you all that I was coming, so you probably have been holding your breath – impatiently awaiting the first post from this amazing European city. You can exhale now. You were turning blue.

I just arrived two days ago, so I haven’t done too much. And, for those who don’t know – I interned in Vienna two summers ago – so I already know the city fairly well and don’t feel overwhelmed to do touristy things immediately. In fact, a big part of the excitement for my return has been spending time with my friends who live in Austria.

You know the first episode of Gossip Girl? The one where the whole Upper East Side is a-twitter with the return of Serena van der Woodsen, but the viewers haven’t seen her yet and don’t know much about her? There’s just a lot of suspense and quick cuts of people whispering Serena’s name and looking around? Don’t lie. You know what I’m talking about.

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Well, Charlotte, my good friend who lives in Vienna, with whom I am currently staying, told me that my return reminds her of that first Gossip Girl episode. Obviously, I am flattered. Though this is definitely overstating my relevance to much of anything at the Vienna International Center. But the analogy was too flattering and amusing not to share.

Moving right along . . . 

It’s been raining today, but even the rain, Vienna’s charm comes shining through.

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Vienna is famous for its coffee culture. Purchasing even one small cup of coffee is enough to allow you to sit for hours without being disturbed, watching the world go by (or doing your German homework, as the case may be).

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I ordered my usual melange – an espresso with foamed milk and cream. It comes on a darling tray with a sweet little glass of water. Image

Of course, I went to Cafe Sperl. One of Vienna’s most renowned coffee houses, rumor has it that it was Hitler’s favorite. I felt very Viennese sitting in there, sipping a melange. Except for the fact that the place is a popular tourist destination. But we can ignore that. That were enough actual Austrians in the cafe to make up for it. Image

The Cafe Sperl decor has not changed for at least a century. High ornate ceilings hold epic hanging lamps that illuminate small marble tables below, while a few unsmiling (but not frowning) waitresses serve up coffees and pastries. As usual, my photos do not do it justice. I feel like Serena would have better photography, no?Image

I also ordered some Apple Strudel. Because, you know, it’s Austria. And while I love Cafe Sperl, I wasn’t that impressed with the strudel. It wasn’t as crispy as I wanted it to be. And I know from The Sound of Music that strudel is supposed to be crisp. (“Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels.” Duh.) 

Oh, and one other thing. My birthday was a few days ago. I am officially in my late twenties now. More important than my age though, below is the sweet watch I received as a gift from my darling BF. I have been majorly coveting a two-toned watch. I wear a healthy combination of gold and silver jewelry (yes, healthy), so the watch will coordinate well. Plus, BF knows I love pink – so he deliberately selected Rose Gold, as opposed to normal gold. It’s really not that pink though – just has lovely pinkish undertones.

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Anyway, it’s late. I am jet-lagged. So I am off to bed. But, dear readers, I am on the look-out for some darling Austrian grandmother to teach me how to cook famous Austrian delicacies. So keep reading, and eventually some will pop up for sure.

Mit Liebe,

Rachel