The Headley-Whitney Museum in Lexington, KY

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Necklace designed and created  by George Headley.

Nov. 26, 2016

Lexington,  KY  proved to be an interesting stop along the way to the  Annual  Gingerbread House Competition in  Asheville, NC .  With over 400 horse farms, Lexington’s  scenery is unbelievably beautiful and  serene.    A stop at the quirky  Headley-Whitney Museum  was  a fun diversion  from all the horses pastures.   George Headley  had been  a popular jewelry and bibelot  designer for the rich and famous, including many movie stars .  George and Barbara( Whitney)  were married in 1960, a union that lasted over 20 years.   The museum features a small  sample of  jewelry and bibelots that George created,  a dollhouse collection, a library  which displays many  artifacts  the couple collected while traveling,  a rose garden and a seashell grotto.  Sadly  in 1994, thieves  broke into the museum and stole 103 pieces of  jewelry and bibelots  from the collection, which were never recovered.

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A George Headley  bibelot created  from shells and coral.

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The unique architecture of their library.

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A miniature  replica of the Whitney Estate  took 6 years to complete.

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Miniature  dining room

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The shell grotto was my favorite!

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Yes!  Those are shell geese flying across the ceiling!!

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Lastly – a quiet spot on the property  serves as the final resting  place for the  couple’s pets.   George and Barbara loved  dachshunds and had several through the years.    Each grave marker has the name and dates of each pet.   I was told that the  dogs  were so loved that sometimes they were even  dressed in diamond jewelry.

Hope you enjoyed this peak into the life of George and Barbara!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

NATIONAL GINGERBREAD HOUSE COMPETITION DISPLAY 2016, Asheville, NC

 

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Nov. 27, 2016

What better way to boost  one’s holiday spirit  than to enjoy dozens of imaginative  Gingerbread Houses?   Every holiday season, there are many Gingerbread House Competitions throughout the country,  but the one held at The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC  claims to be the largest.   It has been a annual  Grove Park Inn tradition now for 24 years.  After a terrific Thanksgiving feast  and about 8 hours of driving,  these were my favorites of the  150  I saw on display:

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Keep in mind – the rules say – it  all  has to be edible…

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Not sure what this is about  but you have to love the expression on that baby’s face!

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Crazy amounts of detail…

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Loved these trumpeters especially…

Now you may be asking – who won this competition?

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3rd Place

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2nd Place

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1st Place

As I said, these were my favorites, though  I applaud them all for the hours of planning, work and dedication to finish their  wonderful  creations.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN from Missouri Botanical Gardens 2016

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Oct 31, 2016

Just a few photos from the Gardens to help you sleep tonight…..

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All scariness aside – look at the size of these Mums!!!

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(borrowed from the ghouls  on the internet)

Arrivederci Magnifico Italia

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Italy’s Mountains of  Gelato  Heaven

Oct 10, 2016

My I first say – my heart felt  thoughts and prayers go out to the citizens of Italy after the devastating  earthquake today and in the past months.   Wishing all that were affected a speedy recovery to a normal life, a resilient  rebuilding of your homeland  and a peaceful earth beneath your feet in the future.

All good things must come to an end, including my  enjoyable visit  to Milan, Pisa and Florence, Italy.

My closing thoughts…

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Regarding Italian Gelato – clearly there is no  competition .

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Regarding the architecture –  the adornments on  Italian buildings never cease to fill me with awe – this  Lion’s expression almost chased  me across the street!

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Regarding the churches –  every church I entered  was filled with beauty,  history, amazement and wonder.

Blindly I walked into the Church of  Orsanmichele  in Florence with no prior knowledge or  suggestion from people, guide books or Google, yet, I  walked  in and stood  before this  intricately  built tabernacle  and painting and was stunned by it’s beauty.  It’s story is also amazing.    In the 13th century, the building that stood here  was a straw market.  During this time,  the first “Madonna of the Graces” was painted on a pillar in that market and soon followed by miraculous events.  The building  and  painting was  destroyed by a fire in 1304.  Rebuilt in 1337, still as a  straw market.  In 1347  Bernardo Daddi’s “Madonna and Child with Angels” was commissioned to replace the original “Madonna of the Grace”. While  it remained a commercial site,  pilgrims inspired by  the miraculous events and sightings of the Madonna there, came in increasing numbers, especially  after the Black Plague struck in 1348.  As the legend grew  the tabernacle was built  in 1359  by Andrea Orcagna  to protect  the new  “Madonna of the Graces” ( the one in this photo).  Eventually the  building was dedicated as a small chapel and oratory in 1380.  The stained glass windows  were added  and are  some of the oldest in Florence, and illustrate the miracles of the “Madonna” of Orsanmichele.

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Regarding the crowds – lots of people were  everywhere  in Florence (and at all of the famous attractions in Italy) –  even as the rain continued all day long.   Bless the people  that were standing on every corner selling $5.00 umbrellas and ponchos.   What more can I say except that everyone loves Italy ?

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My pokka-dotted umbrella adds a little extra  pizzazz to the Duome, don’t you think?    There were many more photos like this with the pokka- dots edited out.

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Lastly, regarding Pinocchio –  I really need  to include Pinocchio in this last posting  of Italy,  as he is a much loved character in Italy and can be seen everywhere in many different  forms –  ornaments, books, stuffed dolls, puppets,   key chains, etc.   Pinocchio  was the creation of the Florence- born  Carlo Lorenzini, a political author.  Under the pen name of  Carlo Collodi ,  he wrote the story of Pinocchio.   Collodi died 7 years later, in 1890,  so he didn’t   live long enough  to see the spectacular success of  Pinocchio’s story.  It has now been translated in over 100 languages and is one of the world’s best sellers.

Pinocchio Park opened in 1956 in the hilly Tuscany village of Collodi, where Carlo Lorenzini’s mother  was born.   The village was Collodi’s  inspiration for the setting of the book – thus it is  also Pinocchio’s “home town”.

Parting sayings?

” A lie keeps growing and growing until it’s as plain as the nose on your face.”   ( Pinocchio)……  or…

” A thousand  woodpeckers flew in through the window and settled themselves on Pinocchio’s nose”    (Carlo Collodi)

Most fitting  me thinks since we are  days away from electing a new president in the  United States.

Thanks for reading and please vote responsibility.

SANTA MARIA NOVELLA and SANTA CROCE – Must See Basilicas in Florence, Italy

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Santa Croce Basilica

October 9, 2016

Santa Croce was built in 1295.  The bell tower  built in 1512 was hit by lightening and fell.  A new bell tower was built between  1853 and 1863. The main chapel of this Basilica is stunning with it’s  dramatic wall to wall frescoes.

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The Main Chapel is one of sixteen.

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The alter piece in the Main Chapel  was assembled in 1869 with various  works of art from the 14th century.

The first funerary monument was placed in Santa Croce  in 1444.  Many well known and  famous Italians  are buried here – my favorite beautiful monument being…..

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Tomb  of Gino Capponi

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Tomb  of Michelangelo, 1564,  another favorite.

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Gioacchino  Rossini Tomb, 1887

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The detail on this is unbelievable.

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Tomb of Carlo Marsuppini, 1453

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There  are also  many tomb slabs in the floor – some are so old and worn that barriers are placed around them due to the trip factor.

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Santa Croce’s peaceful  cloister.

Moving on to the next must see……

The Santa Maria Novella Basilica is best known for it’s  many magnificent frescoes.  The Basilica was  built in 1279 – 1357 with the front facade of the church finally  finished in 1458 – 1470.   The bell tower  of the SMN  is 226 feet tall and was built in 1330 as a watchtower used to locate fires.

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This photo of Santa Maria Novella Basilica is borrowed from the internet – the day I was there there was  much construction in front of the church and too unsightly  for a decent photo.

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Inside of Santa Maria Novella – beautiful  arches and vast feeling.

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The pulpit  is made of carved  marble,  1443.

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The Tornabuoni  Chapel (one of seven)  has an elaborately decorated  marble alter.   Richly colored and detailed  storied frescoes  cover the walls and ceiling of this chapel.

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These spectacular  frescoes were the work of  Domenico Ghirlandaio and his workshop between 1485 and 1490.

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A few close ups of 3 sections of the vibrant  frescoes in this Basilica.

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There were several statues in SMN ……

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but I could never decide if this  Nun was legit or just a statue.

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The Spanish Chapel  at SMN is  completely covered in mesmerizing  frescoes.  This is the back wall, left wall and ceiling. The floor had many tomb slabs.

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Photo mostly of the vaulted ceiling – the chapel was built in 1350 and Andrea di Bonaiuto  painted  frescoes  in 1366.  The painting took 2 years to complete.

While  I  sometimes question if  visiting these  beautiful churches, does my eternity any good, I know that…..

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Thanks for readng!

INTRODUZIONE to FLORENCE, Italy

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One of the many Davids in Florence.  This David stands 16 feet tall.

October 9, 2016

Florence was a quick 1 and 1/2 hours train ride from Milan and a wonderful way to spend my last full day in Italy.  Florence is all about David,  the Duomo , art and shopping.

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Of course, I also found other distractions.

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The Piazza della Signora  is home to The Fountain of Neptune which dates back to 1565.

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Art comes in all forms in the Piazzas.

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Loved this “Cupid with Dolphin”, 1470,  by Andrea Verrocchio which is on display in the……

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Palazzo Vecchio, built in 1299,  now a town hall and museum, previously  by a few hundred years, the ruling family’s palace.

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This would be an interesting piece to add to my patio.

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Florence canines  come in various colors and enjoy tourist  watching.

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The  McDonalds in Florence includes  beer in it’s choice of refreshments!

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Though this was the better shot of the Duomo in Florence..

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This shot was a more accurate depiction of the day – rainy and packed  full of tourists  bumping umbrellas with each step.

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The Duomo ( Santa Marie del Fiore/ Saint Mary of the Flowers Cathedral), Baptistery and   Giotto’s Campanile (Bell Tower) in Florence are beautiful and these dreary day photos don’t do them justice.  The Cathedral was built from 1294 – 1436,  the baptistery  built  from 1059 – 1128 and the Bell Tower  in 1359.  As you can see these buildings were built very close to each other.  Sadly, the lines for entering these  buildings were  sooooo long, allllll day long, that I was never able to see the inside.

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Despite the on-going rain, I was, however,  able to soak up the views (no pun intended) of the Ponte  Vecchio.   This “Old Bridge” spans the Arno River and was built in 1345, which replaced the prior bridge.  Small houses/workshops are built on the bridge, which was common practice in the Middle Ages.  Some of the  houses  also have extensions that hang over the river. In  1565,  Duke  Medici  built a corridor at the top of the bridge so that he would not have to walk on the crowed bridge or  with the commoners.  In 1593 Duke Ferdinand  I  replaced all of the houses/ workshops with gold smiths because they did not produce as much garbage or foul stench as the previous shopkeepers.    Today the houses on the bridge are  all  jewelry/antique  shops  and jammed  full of tourists. The Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in Florence, even surviving WWII.

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Parting shot across the Arno River.

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(borrowed from the internet)

Thanks for reading!!

 

 

 

DAY TRIP TO PISA, ITALY

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October 8, 2016

Pisa, Italy  is,  by far,  best known  for  their  Leaning Tower of Pisa.   Over a million tourists visit the  tower  every year.  Though the Leaning Tower is  the most well known, there is also a Cathedral, a Baptistery and a Monumental Cemetery  that  sit together in  the  ” Campo dei Miracoli”  –    The Field of Miracles.

Interestingly tidbits –   the Cathedral and the Baptistery are  also sinking  and the foundation of the cemetery is made up of 53 shiploads of earth that was brought from the Hill of  Calvery  in Jerusalem.

The Romanesque  Pisa  Tower  originally was  196 feet tall.   Today it is 187 feet on one side, 183 feet on the other side.  It was built from 1173  – 1372 and has 294 steps to the top.   On the train from Milan to Pisa, I sat with a English couple who said I should be sure to climb the tower.  Then they added  how   climbing  around and around  up  the  leaning tower also gave them a queasy, vertigo feeling.   I decided I could thoroughly enjoy the tower from the ground.

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The Baptistery was  built from  1152 -1363.  Galileo was baptized  here in 1565.

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The Baptismal and pulpit in the Baptistery.

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The pulpit was carved in  1255-1260 by Nicola Pisano.

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The Cathedral / St. Mary of the Assumption

was built from  1063 – 1064 and  then expanded through the  centuries.

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Cathedral  central nave

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Cathedral pulpit is 15 feet tall and was carved by  Giovanni Pisano in the early 1300’s.

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Yes, that is a skull looking at you.  Previously attached to the Aspostle Bartholomew.

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Tomb of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII.   2013 was the 600th anniversary of his death and Henry’s sarcophagus was opened and studied. Besides cremated bones and his skull, a crown, sceptre, a globe and a long silk shroud  was found.

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Glass lined tomb of San Ranieri  in the Cathedral. He was the patron saint of Pisa and its travelers.

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Carving in the floor – maybe a grave marker?

Thanks for reading and ……

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(borrowed from the internet)

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