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Needlepoint News - September - Samantha Taylor


After a tremendous heat wave in August - Madrid > and the rest of the European Cities - are again populated and jumping with revived energies. We did enjoy our air conditioner - and - a visit to ...

The Thyssen - The Second Finest Private Art Collection in the World

Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza was one of the heirs to the great Thyssen steel fortune and - a very shrewd capitalist himself - The Thyssen company was merged into the Krupp industrial empire in 1999.

Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza

The Baron was also a world class art collector - who amassed a collection of Old Master paintings and modern works considered to be second among private art collections - only to that of the British monarchy.

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection is - along with the Getty Museum - one of the most important private collections in western art - including 800 works from medieval times to the present day (13th century through the 1970s). Amassed over two generations by the Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza and his son - Hans-Heinrich - this knockout collection was permanently installed in Madrid in 1992 and has since enjoyed great success and critical acclaim.

Lugano - Switzerland - Villa Favorita

A Swiss citizen - the Baron's collection was housed for many years in Lugano - Switzerland where his Villa Favorita is located.

Perhaps due to the Spanish origins of his wife - Carmen Cevera - nearly 800 paintings from his collection were loaned to Spain for a decade and are now permanently located in the Villahermosa Palace in Madrid.

Villahermosa Palace in Madrid

Not the least in Madrid*s trio of major museum upgrades - the 85,000-square-foot expansion of the Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza in the Villahermosa Palace.

A grand neoclassical structure from the early 19th century - the palacio was renovated to house this collection at a cost to the Spanish government of some $45 million. 100 additional works are exhibited in Barcelona.

Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza in the Villahermosa Palace

In sleek and elegant rooms - painted a stylish salmon color - impeccably coordinated with marble floors - the works are organized chronologically - and not divided by nationality - thus allowing a broad sense of historical developments in art with an international sweep.


The earliest works begin on the top floor - from Italian primitives to the Renaissance and the early Baroque. The immediacy of works like Memling's 1485 *Young Man at Prayer* - and Ghirlandaio's 1488 *Portrait of Giovanna Tomabuoni* bridge the centuries between these very real people and ourselves.

Memling - Young Man at Prayer c. 1485

Memling - Young Man at Prayer c. 1485

Tomabuoni is presented in a conventionally idealized style - but her elaborately worked brocade gown - her curls - her jewels - and her pregnancy - along with the objects alluding to her devoutness - all combine to effectively communicate the essence of this virtuous aristocrat. Only history tells us - however - that the beauteous Giovanna will tragically die in childbirth from the very pregnancy here depicted.

Fisherman Playing the Violin - c. 1630 - Frans HALS (Attributed to)

Fisherman Playing the Violin - c. 1630 - Frans HALS (Attributed to)


Down a flight is a fabulous Collection of Dutch realist paintings - *Fisherman Playing the Violin* by Hals - elegant renderings of Dutch interiors and still lifes - as well as the Impressionists > Pisarro's cityscape showing the effect of rain on the Rue St. Honore - a light and charming Berthe Morisot - not to exclude Bonnnard - Monet - Degas > excellent representations of all - post-Impressionist (the finest examples of Van Gogh and Gauguin) - 19th century North American painting (very unusual in Europe) - and German Expressionism.

Portrait of a Farmer - 1901-1906 - Paul CEZANNE

Portrait of a Farmer - 1901-1906 - Paul CEZANNE


The ground floor houses twentieth century art - including an amazingly generous number of works by North American artists. While not surprising to meet a stunning Hopper or two - or an infamous Rauschenberg - it is gratifying to find Lionel Feininger and Ben Shahn in this illustrious company as well.

Express - 1963 - Robert Rauschenberg

Express - 1963 - Robert Rauschenberg

After Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza took over the family collection he concentrated on acquiring art which had been of less interest to his father. Although the Baron continued to buy Old Masters - including paintings by Duccio - Kalf - Saenredam and Goya - his change of emphasis led him to acquire these major works from the 19th and 20th centuries - thus evolving this collection to the present state of extreme excellence > including masterpieces of Impressionism - Postimpressionism - Fauvism - German Expressionist movements - European avant-garde and European and American postwar art. Van Gogh - Picasso - Mondrian - Bacon and Lichtenstein are among the key figures in art history who are also featured in this collection.

Woman in Bath - 1963 - Roy LICHTENSTEIN

Woman in Bath - 1963 - Roy LICHTENSTEIN

There is no way that the Thyssen collection could be adequately summarized in a short review. Our intention is to give just a hint of the magnificent glories offered by this extraordinary gift to the public of a collection of such scope and depth.

Hopper - Hotel Room - 1931

Hopper - Hotel Room - 1931

Do not think for a moment that you will be content with what you can see and absorb in a few hours - The Thyssen becomes a way of life.

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

This is a treasure from which to select jewels to cherish over many visits.

This state-of-the-art Foundation constantly offers exhibits and educational activities for all - including the wee ones !! In Madrid - we fondly call it *El Thyssen*.

Please enjoy the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - web site - it is exquisite.


Needlepoint Kits

Needlepoint Kits - Memling

When visiting - do not miss the Gift Shop - where they sell Samantha Taylor Memling Needlepoint and other extremely well-made - exclusive designs based on the paintings of the Thyssen Collection.

Needlepoint Kits

Needlepoint Pillow Kits - Memling Gul

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Luna y Bombé

Little Luna The Little Bombe Cat

Ooh Oh ... Bombé - Went to Jail.

We will not tell you exactly why - as we do take our Internet Privacy Policy very seriously - however we will say that - it was a very BIG and BAD one ...

... so we - put her in the International Carrier for - (almost) - a whole hour.

She tried every trick to escape ... at first ... very sure of herself - then ...

... as she began to realize there was no way out - the crying began and Luna was beside herself - frantically and nervously *talking* - in an unusual manner while running around in circles - (we felt absolutely devastated) - yet - just - did - not --- give - in.

After the (almost) hour - when finally letting Bombé out of her entrapment > we found a new and converted creature. It was all a question - of -- who ran the show and - Bombé found out there and then. Silly - but - sometimes necessary.

She has been *a piece of cake* - ever since. Thank God.

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Our Favorite Recipes - Restaurants and Chefs

A four hour drive from Madrid - the French Basque Country is a favorite weekend retreat - and one we have explored extensively.

A very savored discovery - back in time - leads us to recommend Our Favorite Restaurant (and hotel for this region - although the rooms are a tad wild !!)

Les Pres d Eugenie

Les Pres d Eugenie

Owners : Christine et Michel Guérard - Director : Olivier Pollard

A four hour drive from Madrid - the French Basque Country is a favorite weekend retreat - and one we have explored extensively.

A very savored discovery - back in 1979 - leads us to recommend Our Favorite Restaurant (and hotel for this region - although the rooms are a tad wild !!)

Michel Guérard

40320 Eugénie-Les-Bains (Grand Sud-Ouest) France

In the past century - Empress Eugénie was extremely fond of this elegant colonial hamlet where the white palace - *Les Prés* - the *Couvent des Herbes* and the *Ferme aux Grives* gracefully court each other in balmy gardens of magnolias and verbena. Today - Christine and Michel Guérard delight guests with a rare symphony of herb gardens - climbing roses - magic springs - exotic fragrances - exquisite guest rooms and delicious favors which distil a refined *Art de vivre*.

We found - this recipe for you - Crispy Foie Gras on a Bed of Fresh Mache

Foie Gras on a Bed of Fresh Mache

Foie Gras

French Cuisine

Despite a common pan-Gallic chauvinism - French cooking is not a monolith > it ranges from the olives and seafood of Provence to the butter and roasts of Tours -- from the simple food of the bistro to the fanciful confections of the Tour d'Argent.

However - it all shares a seriousness about food. Throughout the country - French cooking involves a large number of techniques - some extremely complicated - that serve as basics. Any cook will tell you that French food will not tolerate shortcuts in regard to these fundamentals. Because mastery of sauces or pastry doughs is the center of the culinary arts - recipes themselves remain classic and constant.

In a way similar to Japanese cuisine - it is expected that even the simplest preparation be undertaken in the most careful manner - which means disregarding the amount of time involved.

Vegetables - French Cuisine

Not only do basic cooking techniques require great skill - but an they also demand a deep understanding of the ingredients themselves.

Just as the vintner knows that the finest Bordeaux comes from the grapes grown on that side of the hill and not this - so too the chef knows not only from which region come the finest petits pois (small - young green peas) - but from which town -- the same goes for asparagus - and even cauliflower. If there is something worth eating - and cooking - there is a best representative of such.

Many foods are known by the town that made them famous - such as Pessac for strawberries - the peas of Saint-Germaine - Macau artichokes - the Charollais steer - butter of Isigny.

Steamed Trout Fillet with Carrot Juice and Crispy Skin

Steamed Trout Fillet with Carrot Juice and Crispy Skin

The French and English adapted service à la russe - where courses are served separately - in the middle of the 19th century. A French meal might begin with a hot hors d'oeuvre (or for luncheon - a cold hors d'oeuvre) followed by soup - main course - salad - cheese and finally dessert.

The French operate with a strong sense that there is an appropriate beverage for every food and occasion. Wine is enjoyed with the meal - but rarely without food. An aperitif (a light alcoholic beverage such as Lillet) precedes the meal and a digestif (something more spirited -- say - cognac) may follow.

Needlepoint Coasters

Needlepoint Coasters - Cognac and Memling of course !!

This close relationship between food and wine may - in part - closely parallel the evolution of great cooking and great wine making. It is probably not coincidental that some of the best cooking in France happens in some of her finest wine-growing regions.

In Burgundy - Bordeaux - Provence - and Touraine - wine is as prevalent in the cooking process as it is in the glass. Champagne as a beverage doesn't accompany food gracefully - likewise - as a region it is not well known for its food.

One notable exception to this rule (and there are of course others) is Normandy - who - from her fantastic butter - cream - cheese - apples and the riches of the sea - has produced a marvelous local cuisine without the help of wine. However, the local Calvados - an apple based eau-de-vie - may also explain the phenomenon.

Saddle of Lamb with Mountain-Thyme Jus

Saddle of Lamb with Mountain-Thyme Jus

The French are predominantly Catholic and thus have no eating prohibitions - though many dishes have a Lenten variation. Moreover - the Gauls are not afraid to eat anything. Kidney - brain - sweetbreads - tripe - blood sauces and sausages - sheep's foot - tongue - and intestines are all common in French cooking and hold equal standing with the meat of lamb - beef - pork - poultry - and game. Quite the opposite of being exotic - these foods are at the heart of the bourgeois menu - with seafood inevitably being the soul - and vegetables - the flesh.

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No nation on earth is quite as good at enjoying itself as Spain. There are so many fiestas that even if you could attend more than one a day you would not be able to see them all in a single lifetime.

La Tomatina - Buñol - Valencia

La Tomatina - Buñol - Valencia

The sunny Mediterranean city of Valencia in Spain is world-renowned for its tasty and succulent oranges - and only thirty miles away is Buñol - another town just as famous for its produce.

But its notoriety comes from the locals' habit of wearing the produce as well as tasting it > every year - Buñol hosts La Tomatina - the world's largest vegetable fight. Situated only 30 kilometers inland from the Mediterranean Sea - this charming town erupts into a fiery blaze of tomato-hurling on the last Wednesday of every August.

The *batalla* - takes place during a week-long celebration filled with ongoing festivities and with even greater anticipation for the monstrous tomato battle that serves as the culmination of the week's events.

The celebration of Madrid's patron saint takes several days and many cultural events are offered to the people: contests of chotis - Madrid's traditional dance - concerts of folk music - or craftsmanship fairs.

Without a question - the biggest tomato fight in the world - La Tomatina started with a good laugh. During the forties - in Buñol's main town square - a number of friends started a tomato fight for unknown reasons. It is unclear whether the initial volley was aimed at city officials or simply pedestrians unlucky enough to be in the line of fire. Soon enough - however - with their rowdy hooliganism drawing passersby into the fray - everyone was having a great time. They had so much fun - in fact - that from that day forward - the fiesta has been celebrated annually and has grown ever bigger each year.

La Tomatina - Buñol - Valencia

El Julí - in the Huelva Bull Ring

In an effort to draw more tourism - and more targets - into the small town of Buñol - La Tomatina has blossomed into a full-blown fiesta that coincides with the festival for the town's patron saint. For one week before the epic battle - the 20,000-strong town of Buñol - is filled with fireworks - parades - food and street parties. The night before La Tomatina - the narrow streets beneath the town's imposing Medieval bell tower are filled with tomatoes - in a much more palatable form than they will be the next day!

Cauldrons of delectable paella cooking - simmered traditionally over wood-burning fires line the Concurso des Paellas - near the Plaza del Pueblo - site of the imminent skirmishes. Wine and food flow around the small town until the wee hours - in a fabulous Dickens-like foreshadowing. After all - who can do battle thirsty and on an empty stomach?

La Tomatina - Buñol - Valencia

Then - early Wednesday morning - shopkeepers and business owners along the Plaza set about covering windows and doors in preparation for the messy onslaught. Large trucks rumble up the cobblestone streets to arrive in the crowd-filled square and - from the back of the huge trucks - official instigators begin ceremoniously pelting the awaiting throng with their precious cargo > sloppy -squishy tomatoes trucked in from the four corners of Spain.

La Tomatina - Buñol - Valencia

Dressed in clothing doomed for the trash can - more than 20,000 revelers retaliate against the truckers - each other and anything else that strays within range of their hand-crushed veggie blobs. Soon the streets are awash in seeds - pulp and tomato guts - possibly one of the best starts to a great marinara sauce to be found west of Mont Blanc.

The insanity ensues until more than 90,000 pounds of tomatoes have been hurled at anything with a pulse that ducks - runs - stops - turns about - or fights back. For visiting tourists - be aware that anyone with a camera or a baseball cap will be considered a prime target. Like all good battles - the assault is over in less than half an hour. Everyone then reconciles with their former targets and fellow warriors and heads down to the river to remove the saucy mess from hair and body.

This is truly a Man´s Fiesta - the Ladies tend to stay away.

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What to do When You are Down

Ignore the reason - or perhaps persons that have created this sense of "mal estar" (bad feelings) - think of something that you have always enjoyed doing - and - - DO IT.

For example - Invite that Special Person to a Perfect Meal.

Lafite Rothschild Family Reserve

Indulge - Lafite Rothschild Family Reserve with the main course.

Plan this properly -- select the menu carefully - prepare all --- slowly - and of course - spend time designing the table and room - with every possible detail ... do not forget the candles.

Now - before the meal - a long soak in the Jacuzzi -- also by candle light.

Guaranteed that you will feel wonderful !! -- Now Just Do Not Be Down.

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We Love to Hear from Our Friends.


Please write to us. If you like we will publish your correspondence in our next newsletter and web site. Tell us about yourself, your needlepoint *addiction* - what you would like us to add or remove from our newsletters ... or any of your favorite anecdotes! If you prefer to remain anonymous be sure to include this at the end of your note. Just select below and write - it is that simple. Make some time.

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Nice Thoughts from Our Friends.

*Hi Jan Kailynne is doing great.

Here is a picture I took last weekend when we went camping. She is eating her first handful of dirt. She did not have as much fun as she wanted to - since mommy and daddy were always saying *don't put that in your mouth*

- from Our Super Doctorate friend in - *his world* USA ?¿


A few observations on this process of purchasing from you:

I have lived and worked alot in Europe, Latin America and Asia. And purchased and ordered from all over.

This experience by far has been the very best. You should be rewarded for the excellence in the quality of product, absolute ease of purchase, reliability, superb customer service, and living up to your word every step of the way.

The CD is a nice touch also. I will spread the word here and hope that you see more business from NY. It will take me a few months to enjoy and work through "San Sebastian" and then I'll send you photos

Thank you for creating such a beautiful piece. Best Regards,*

Hi, Jan Thank you so much for answering my query.

I went back to your pages and read your newsletters and feel I have stumbled upon something really good!

You see - I am the ultimate Hispanophile - lived in Madrid for a few years in the early 1980's - traveled extensively in Spain - and never *recovered* from the experience - I have lived in many countries - before and since - but Spain remains my favorite.

I am still deeply interested in all things Spanish - the language - music - movies - literature - arts & crafts - etc.

I am happy to have found your web pages and will keep an eye out for your newsletters to receive an occasional *aire de Espana*. By the way - in case you did not know and want to pass it on to your Spain-loving friends in America - there is a wonderful store in Seattle - with branches in San Diego and Santa Fe > The Spanish Table - which imports Spanish foods - wines - music - books etc. - and regularly publishes a newsletter with info about newly arrived merchandise.

This is probably too long for you to care to read. I will close by saying I was delighted to read you are a former (?) figure skater. My husband and I both love watching figure skating - and never miss a TV broadcast during the season - if we can help it. Best regards - From a friend in Seattle USA

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First technological contributions of the 11th Century

Among the technological novelties that arrived with the invasion of Spain by the Arabs - what most stood out because of their subsequent consequences - were various ceramic processes that served to provide the product with a glassy layer that made it impermeable and moreover constituted the base and coating of its eventual chromatism or decoration. These processes include transparent or light green lead-glazing - decoration on white engobe and under a transparent glaze and metallic highlights - which was already originally done in the 11th Century in Mesopotamia, Persia or Egypt.

Spanish Tiles - Mosaic from The Alhambra

Spanish Tiles - Mosaic from The Alhambra

This technique soon reached the Iberian Peninsula and an important production factory was established in Malaga. The architectonic application of golden highlights as facing during the Islamic era was known - as the one-base semi-spherical segment that completed the turret of the greater mosque of Seville (12th Century) and other building in the city. This process was very much admired by travelers as witnessed by El Idrisi during his pass through Calatayud in 1154.

The pressure of the Christians in the 15th Century forced the metallic highlights production factory to be transferred from Malaga to Manises - which marked the beginning of a fruitful relation that would last for centuries between the Andalusian hub and the Mediterranean strip of the Iberian Peninsula - where the greater part of Spanish tiles are currently produced.

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Favorite Sayings

Like nearly all languages - Castellano - Spanish arrived at its current state over hundreds of years. It had its origins in Indo-European and then in Latin before it became a distinct language of its own. Here you will learn more about the history of a language that is spoken by more than 300 million people.


The Spanish language is rich with refranes > sayings or proverbs that often become a shorthand way of conveying a thought or expressing a judgment - a unique form - yet a loving vehicle of communication.

Here you will find a collection of a sayings - one for each day of the month.

Of the literally hundreds of sayings that are a part of the language - this section includes some of the most common as well as a few others that were chosen simply because they are so charming.

If you want the dog - accept the fleas.

Si quieres el perro - acepta las pulgas.

If you want the dog - accept the fleas.

[If you can't stand the heat - get out of the kitchen - or ... (Better said) Love me - love my faults.]

Another ...

La ignorancia es atrevida.

Ignorance is courageous.

Samantha Taylor is Celebrating her Eighth Anniversary This Month !!

balloonsBird DancingGift

Happy Birthday

This is all for now. ¡Hasta Pronto!... and Thank You for - again - for taking the time to read this.

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