Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Belle is back!

My new years resolution this year was to start blogging again, but where to start?! My last blog was over 3 years ago and I've been up to quite a lot in that time... I had a baby and traveled and re started by business after a baby break and started making empire diadems.. I have to say my reenactment/costuming life has really taken off here in Germany as there are so many events in Europe that one has to pick and choose which ones to attend and that is just in the Napoleonic/regency period. I pretty much quit doing any other time period because I simply don't have the time!
So here is a quick catch up post of the highlights of my last 3 years, before we move on to more current events..

So first and foremost and also the main reason I haven't blogged in forever is the birth of my daughter Josephine (named after the empress of course) in may of 2015.

Presenting Josephine Virginia Anne
Her arrival basically derailed my life and work for the better part of the past 3 years. But I wouldn't have it any other way and I love her to pieces. Shes been my travel companion to events a number of times and has grown up in the reenacting world, so expect to see her frequently on here.

I didn't do Much in 2015 as getting around with a new baby is pretty stressful. but we did go to Weimar where Josephine had her reenacting debut at the age of 3 months.

Josephine's first reenactment, at the Schiller house.

Taking a walk with Regina and Kerstin in the Ilm Park in Weimar.

 And in November we took a family trip to Amsterdam and then to Prague

on one of the many many bridges in Amsterdam.

In 2016 I got out a little more.
First a quick trip to Munich for my friend Brigitte`s annual January Salon,
 that was the first time traveling alone since Josephine`s birth and my first night of uninterrupted sleep in 9 months! Yet somehow I don't have any pictures of this..
In April I went to a lovely Napoleonic event in Loano Italy, with Josephine in tow.

Seaside pleasures in Loano
She was the star of the event in her antique baby stroller, she was more popular than Napoleon and started to wave to the crowds like the queen of England.

Napoleon and Josephine
 Mark Schneider who was portraying Napoleon at the event took it with humor and said it wasn't anything new to be outshone by Josephine.

There was a lovely photographer called Alessandra Herr at the event who took a number of adorable pictures of Josephine.

Group picture after the gala dinner.

 I went back to Italy the next month with Josephine, my mother, and a friend for a Napoleonic weekend in Lucca.

In a palazzo garden in Lucca


That was an adventure, my cars transmission died as soon as we got to Lucca and went to its end in and Italian junk yard because the transmission would have cost more to fix than the car was worth.

My car being towed to the junk yard.

My friends husband had to come down to Italy with a rental car to pick us up. this was the first occurrence of what I now call the Italy curse.

My friend Gabielle and I at the Ball, photo by Coltrane Koh, who's a very talented photographer you'll see more of his work on this bog!

At the ball

It has apparently been a thing in my family since the 70's that something bad happens when we travel to Italy, but it hadn't directly affected me until the broken car. You will hear more about the Italy curse later.

In July the family and I went back to the states for a visit for the fist time since moving to Germany and I managed to squeeze in a weekend at the Jane Austen festival in Louisville.

My booth at the Jane Austen festival, I shared it with Taylor from Dames a la Mode that year

Handling my wares

Taking a break with Maggie

In September I went back to Weimar with both girls.

My girls
With baby Josephine at Tiefurt palace
Outside of our residence, with Christian,Sabine , Regina and Josephine

And in October we had a visit from some friends from Pittsburgh and took them to Brussels and Amsterdam.

Brussles! From the balcony of our vacation rental.

When in Brussles one has to have Belgium beer!

Mannekin pis. this little peeing dude is a famous attraction in Brussles.

I' married to a physicist so we had to go see the Atomium right outside of Brussels.

I was a little bit too amused by this apron in Amsterdam, I thought it' appendage rather resembled my newly bought pink shawlI might have also been not so sober.

When in Holland one must take a picture of a windmill...
At the end if 2016 we moved to a new and bigger apartment, we now have the whole ground floor in a Villa built in 1901

Our home for the past 2 years.
2017 brought a return to Munich for Brigitte's Salon in January.

This is one of my favorite dresses its made from a vintage silk sari.
And a family trip to Rome and the Amalfi coast in February, which was lovely because the weather in Germany was very drab but it was gorgeous in southern Italy.

When in Rome one must take a picture at the Trevi fountain

In Sorrento

It was harvest time for citrus fruit and the smell of lemons hung in the air.

Our vacation rental had a bowl of freshly picked citrus fruit from the owners garden waiting for us when we arrived.

The view from my bedroom in Piano di Sorrento

Josephine getting ready to lay out on the balcony

The bay of Naples
 I'm now totally in love with the south of Italy and look forward to returning for an event this may.

Took the kids to Pompeii

nearly 2000 year old mural in Pompeii

Pompeii selfie


In April we took our older daughter Charlotte to Disney Land Paris. it was interesting to see they European version of Disney, I think I much prefer it to the American ones.

Charlotte at Disney

But that's probably because I spent a miserable 2 moths working like a slave at Disneyworld back in 2005.
Me in Disney hell. its a small world..
After our trip to Disney I took a trip to Vienna  to meet up with some good friends from my college days that live in England now. They where in Vienna  for a few days and I decided to go see them, .

Vienna bitches! 

I'm  Sissi!

That same month a group of friends and I went to a Jane Austen Ball in Ansbach Germany.

The ballroom in the Orangery

With Susanne and Alessandra

Our little group after tea

And in June I went back to Italy for a Napoleonic weekend in Florence.

A sunny day in Florence with Antonia and Brigitte
trying to keep cool in the summer heat

Here is another beautiful Image by Coltrane Koh, Again with Antonia and Brigitte

This one was after the ball, Zack and Brigitte seem done for the night. Image by Coltrane

Madame Recamier by Coltrane Koh

Dinner al fresco on the terrace of a Tuscan Villa with Antonia, picture by Amaida Cid

I got to be part of a reenactment of the meeting of Napoleon and the grand duke of Tuscany( I played a lady in waiting to the duchess)

Staring off into the distance as one does as a lady in waiting.

The 3 graces with Florence in the background. I promise there where more people at this event than just Antonia and Brigitte but somehow they are in all my best pictures!

But on my way home the Italy curse struck again and my brand new i phone was stolen in the train station.

In July I few to the US for a week to go to the Jane Austen festival, I always have a booth there so while It sounds crazy to go for just 5 days or so it's totally worth it for me, money wise, but also because I get to see almost all of my American friends in one place!

Somehow I don`t take many pictures of Jane fest 2017, this is the best I've got, sipping Iced coffee in my newly acquired "Julia" bonnet by Shocking Bad Hats, and yes its named after me!

September brought a return to Weimar

With my girls Regina Josephine and Alessandra 

conked out in her antique stroller

Josephine admiring the flowers with Alessandra

She wanted to push the stroller

Breakfast time in Weimar

As well as the Biggest event of the Year Malmaison!

The sewing work force outside our makeshift workshop

Doing fittings for the empresses dress with Ester and Josephine/Cristina

Dress assembly discussions with Corina, Francine and  Irma

Backstage with Antonia just before the beginning of the event

 I was honored to be invited back to Malmaison and this time I got a promotion to be part of the court. And I got the fabulous court gown to go with it! My court gown is a recreation of one that belonged to Julie Bonaparte the sister in law of Napoleon, that I had seen in the Museo Napoleonico on my trip to Rome in February.
The original court gown mine is based on in the Museo Napoleonico in Rome
front view, they put the belt on backwards..

The Museum has a painting of Julie Bonaparte wearing the actual dress!

I worked together with the organizers of the event Cristina Barreto and Martin Lancaster to create the stunning gown.

My grand entrance at the Gala dinner Friday night

In most of the pictures from Malmaison I have total resting bitch face, my friends have dubbed this my Bonaparte face. So here's me standing in line waiting around with Svenja, Francine, Allison and Alessandra with my bonaparte face on.

Svenja adjusting my train before I descended down the hill towards the large tent that the festivities where held at.

I don't actually own the gown it belongs to Cristina and Martin but I just feel so lucky to have been part of the creation of  this amazing work of art, and that I get to wear it to court events now. It really deserves a blog post in and of itself!

We where part of a large parade held for the public, there was a whole column of antique carriages, I shared mine with Antonia, Francine and Corina

Josephine bedroom selfie inside Malmaison

In chateau Malmaison with Svenja

Aside from the court gown, Malmaison 2017 was similar to the one in 2014 a lot of work and stress and drama and last minute sewing but it was also absolutely amazing and unforgettable! I had a few of those magical moments us reenactors live for where you feel transported in time. I wouldn't want to have missed it and will absolutely jump at any opportunity to do it again! it's really and unforgettable experience!

After a long day in the bus back to the hotel with swollen feet.

 And then my mother called me and told me that Josephine was in the hospital with a concussion, never a dull moment with that child! Shes fine though...

In October I went to a lovely house party in a little chateau in northern Bavaria called Schloss Zeilitzheim. It is a real immersion event, where for a weekend you live the life of the gentry and spend your time in this little baroque chateau that looks almost exactly as it did in 1750 or so. Except for having central heat and electricity in the bedrooms that is.

In the  fresco parlor, with my Malmaison gang Irma Brigitte Susanne Corina and Christian

Charlotte looking like a little lady

lounging around on the sofa after breakfast
The main salon and dining room however was lit by candles and and heated with antique ceramic ovens, and the hallways where freezing , which really added to the whole feeling of realness. I very much enjoyed this immersion weekend and I'm looking forward to going back this fall.

Then in November I was lucky enough to get a ticket to a weekend event with ball, held in a historic Residence in  Haarlem that built and furnished in the 1790s

With Irma and Corina

This picture has a total Becky sharp vibe!

They had a cardboard Mr. Darcy
 I actually took the husband along. He didn't go to the ball however, But he did go to the afternoon tea at the royal riding school in Amsterdam the next day. Hes not in any pictures though because he was the one taking them..

In the stairway at the royal riding school

Me on horseback 
We got to take a turn about on a horse riding side saddle which was a interesting experience,  I have to tell you, you need some serious leg muscles to pull that off! My legs where jelly after just 5 minutes!

2018 was just as crazy travel wise as the year before, in February we took a family trip to Paris with my mother, it was her birthday present for her 70th birthday, she hadn't been to Paris and neither had my husband( only Disneyland Paris which is actually not in Paris proper) so I figured it was time they both went!
My mom and girls by the arc de triomphe

living the sweet life in Paris
I get to Paris a lot these days it seems but it was nice to go as a tourist instead of just passing through on the way to Malmaison.

At Notre Dame

Hall of mirrors selfie in Versailles
So we did the touristy stuff, Eiffel tower, arc de triomphe, Notre Dame and the Louvre, and Versailles of course.

My girls at Malmaison
 Then on the last day before driving home we went to Malmaison. it was completely empty and we had the place to ourselves, a novel experience for me as I've only ever gone during the Imperial Jubilee event and it was always extremely crowded. 

Josephine kept saying my bedroom.
It was such a magical visit, I could almost feel Josephine's presence, the original Josephine that is, not the little empress I had in tow, though she did stomp around the place like it was hers!

She liked Malmaison so much Bryan had to carry her out kicking and screaming

In February I went to German Karneval in my hometown of Dieburg for the first time in 18 years, I went with the same people I went with 18 ago! I dressed up as Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous. It was a blast.

its Patsy

With my school chums Bea and Caro

On March 1st Josephine started preschool finally giving me the time to restart my business and now start blogging again.

Josephines first day of Preschool

Later in March I returned to Paris for a very special occasion. I was part of a group of reenactors that was invited to a gala evening in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the purchase of the Palais Beauharnais, the residence of the German ambassador to France.

The Palais Beuaharnais

The Cherry Salon

Queen Hortense's bedroom

Someone told me this table was worth 2 million euro
 The palais had once belonged to Eugene de Beauharnais, the son of empress Josephine from her first marriage, he sold it to the King of Prussia Friedrich Wilhelm II in 1818 and it has been in German possession ever since, first serving as a royal residence, then as the embassy and now as home of the ambassador.

My grand entrance to the Soiree
With the Royal families of France and Germany.
the cherry rooms decor just happened to match ,y court gown!

It was an amazing evening in such splendid surroundings, with lovely company and an endless supply of champagne, and I got to wear my court gown again!

The whole court including the ambassador of Germany and his lovely wife.

I had to ad another one because its just too perfect!

 In April my daughter Charlotte had her first communion and I made her dress out of the skirt of my wedding gown. she looked like a princess.

Before cutting it up I tried it on one last time, I didn't zip up anymore, but that didnt stop me.

Outside of the church on Charlotte's big day

We went to a professional photographer for some nice pictures of her in her dress afterwards.

My high school senor picture looks exactly like this ..

 In May I went to the Königin Luisen Ball at Schloss Friedrichsfelde in Berlin.

Antonia and I in front of the little palace

If there is a couch I will lounge on it! With Antonia and Susanne

With  Queen Luise (Brigitte) and Irina 

I was not impressed...

My friend Brigitte always portrays Queen Luise of Prussia she did this at Malmaison the prior year and again at the Soiree at the embassy in March and then twice a year in May and November at this Ball in Berlin

Our little ball group, Manja, Regina Antonia's husband Lucca, Antonia and Susanne and myself

The princess and the frog

So a group of friends went to the Ball.  We were definitely the best dressed people there, but its worth going for the lovely little palace the ball is held in and the company of course. Besides  its not like going to Berlin could ever be boring, there is so much to see and do!

At the Brandenburg gate with Regina, Susanne and Brigitte
The day of the ball we all too a trip to the Kusntegewerbe Museum in Berlin to see their costume collection. they have some very interesting pieces there.

The museum has some stunning empire gowns, I especially liked this red velvet gown embroidered with pearls

And do't you just love these 1790' shoes!

This bonnet was also totally adorable, 

 In July I did my now annual trip to Kentucky for the Jane Austen festival.

My friend Glenda held a welcome Dinner for this years speaker Zack Pinsent, I have total Bonaparte face here!

I dressed up as a french revolutionary for Bastille day.

I had a fabulous time heckling the local nobility!

and another picture of me hanging on Zack like some fan girl.

I got a new Shocking Bad Hats hat. this model is called Josephine its fabulous!!

Then in August I went back to Italy for another Napoleonic Weekend in Lucca.

I drove down with my friends Miriam and Angela, we drove through the night and arrived in Italy early in the morning so we decided to take a morning swim in the Mediterranean

I got to set up my shop at the event this year

But it wasn't all work I also got to hang with my friends, here I am with Brigitte and Astrid in Pauline Bonaparte's apartments.

And another beautiful airport by Coltrane
  This time the organizer Margarita really outdid herself , there was a masque ball at a chateau in the hills above Lucca with an opera performance, and hot air balloon rides!

The evening of  Masque ball started out with an opera performance on the steps of the Villa Rossi a Gattiola

Baccanailian delights Miriam feeding grapes to Nicole

Coltrane just knows how to make a woman look good!
 This time the organizer Margarita really outdid herself , there was a masque ball at a chateau in the hills above Lucca with an opera performance, and hot air balloon rides!

Seems Ben was not ok with Christian offering me some of his wine...

The next day we went to the spa tom of Bangi di Lucca in the mountains above Lucca and we had a big ittalian Lunch that lated 3 hours!

On our way up to Bangi di Lucca and our 3 hour lunch we stopped at this medieval bridge called the devils bridge.

after that a small group of us split off from the rest and we went and had a photo-shoot in a vacant 200 year old bath house!

Here is one of the less risque images from the boathouse  This time the organizer Margarita really outdid herself , there was a masque ball at a chateau in the hills above Lucca with an opera performance, and hot air balloon rides!
photo-shoot. If you'd like to see more you should head over to Coltrane Koh's website

And then because one ball wasn't enough there was another ball that night in the old Casino in Bangi di Lucca. it was built in 1812 and Byron and Shelly gambled and danced there once upon a time.

The winner takes it all!
I love these gambling themed group images Coltrane took at the ball in the Casino, look at me holding my glass of Prosecco!
My dear friends and loyal customers all wearing their Bohemian Belle tiaras

The ballroom was so very Empire in its decor it was such a perfect loacation

Karolina and Angela model their Bohemian Belle tiaras

Miriam and I in matchy matchy yellow ballgowns

 In September I took a short trip to Switzerland where my friend Alessandra had organized a lovely little weekend at Jegenstorf Caste near Solothurn.

Jegenstorf castle

I can't get together with Kitty and Susanne without shenaniagans 

total shenanigans
Our lovely Hostess Alessandra with Kitty

Group photo including Lizzy the King Charles Spaniel
on Sunday we took a little hike to to the Verna Cave 

it was a slow paced relaxing weekend filled with good friends , delicious food and golden late summer sunshine, I wish it would have been longer because I didn't want to return to reality afterwards.

In October I went back to Italy with my Children and my cousin Regina for another event in Loano.

In the streets of Loano

My girls on the beach

On the beach with Josephine

It was all fun and games, and lots of yummy food until the Italy curse struck.  

Regina and Josephine

 I woke up in the middle of the night covered from head to toe in a itchy rash. I stubbornly pressed on through the rest of the event on Sunday, where we went on a wooden ship which was indeed lovely,

Charlotte got to take a nap in the ships net.

but the rash burned and itched so horribly that I took myself to the emergency  room with my friend Alessandra in tow as translator. They pumped me full of cortisone and sent me back home. I have to say the Italian emergency room was surprisingly well organized and efficient, we where in and out in about an hour.
The gelato matched my outfit!

Anyway they suspected that I was having an allergic reaction though I never did figure out despite going to the doctor for an allergy test when I got back home.

I went back to Berlin in November for the Königin Luise Ball again. I made a new ballgown for the occasion I call it the Slyterin dress because its made from dark green velvet with silver accents.

With the King and Queen of Prussia

The Slytherin dress
 More Slytherin dress

And when in Berlin one must simply visit one of the many museums there.
So we went to the Deutsche Historische Museum and had a look at Queen Luise's spencer and Napoleons hat that he lost at Waterloo.

This dress was trimmed allover with little pom poms.

The embroidery on this one was lovey! 

Queen Luise and her spencer

In the precedence of the emperor, or rather his hat..

Check out the original faux bang curls on the table!

I swear I saw Angela Merkel's body double at a cafe in Berlin!

Which brings us to this year.
 I already went on a trip to the Czech Spa town of Karlsbad for new years eve with my Mother.

The thing to do in Karlsbad is drinking this disgusting hot mineral water that bubbles up from the ground in several places around town.

They have a Brand of champagne in the Czech republic called Bohemia, I love it I brought back a whole case!

 And then spent new years day with my family in Prague.

With my mom and Charlotte on the Karls bridge in Prague with the castle in the background.

 I love Prague! We didn't do too much there because it was really cold, but we went and had some yummy Czech food and beer and then I got to go to the Mucha Museum.

Mucha print.

He's one of my favorite artists and I plan a Mucha styled costume for Carnivale in Venice in February. Then I went to Munich again for my friend Brigitte's annual January Salon,

I made a new dress for the Salon

This time I took Charlotte with me

Charlotte in her evening clothes.

The first prototype of my new empire diadem reproduction. these will go into production within the next few months.

This year is already shaping up to be a busy one travel wise. I know I'm going back to Italy twice once in February for Carnivale in Venice and then again in May for a trip to Naples, and of course my usual trip to Louisville, I`m also going to a seaside event in Holland in the summer and one to Schloss Zeilitzheim in the fall and there may be some trips to France in my future as well. I will see what comes my way.In any case I intend to keep up with blogging as I go to events and make new costumes, but as I'm a lazy writer I can`t promise anything
So here`s to a new year and a newly revived blog!