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To the ancient Greeks - she was - the land where Hercules* golden apples grew - - to the Arabs - the ground floor of heaven - - to writers such as George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway - she was an arena - where history skittered between heroic feats - tragedy - and bullfighters flirting with death - in the work - of one afternoon.

Few places - so dramatically - arouse the imagination - and no other attract so many visitors..

We now take you to Andalucia - *Al-Andalus* - much more will be written in months to come - again - very - slowly.

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If Seville - is Scarlet O*Hara - then Cordoba - is Rhett Butler. Handsome - honorable and - forthright - without benefit of a marked gypsy grace - to soften - the keen masculine edge.

Street in Cordoba

A Street in Cordoba

In the beginning - of the eighth century - emirs from the Damascus Caliphate - had already established themselves - yet with the arrival of Abderrahman I in 756 - a discernible dynasty was founded - consolidating the power to rule over all of Muslim Spain - which the Moors referred to as - *Al- Andalus*.

Cordoba was - then - possibly - Europe*s most civilized city.

In the 10th century - it founded - a university - of great renown. Literature and science - were encouraged - schools of philosophy and medicine promoted - and libraries were established.

La Mezquita - The Mosque

Begun in 785 - the Mezquita - was - two centuries in building - expanding with the population before reaching the full size of 570 by 450 feet (174 by 137 meters).

Again - do not complain if - you take so long - finishing your needlework - just think of building the Mosque in Cordoba.

Inside - a forest of 850 columns create - a repetitive motif of crisscrossing alleys - similar to the feel of a hall of mirrors.

The Mosque

The Mosque

In the great mosque of Córdoba - the geometric effects are breathtaking. Cascading matrices of arched stone - which once framed thousands of worshippers - lead the eyes outward toward the ever-receding edges of perceptible space.

Later Islamic styles - retain that sense of enclosure and complexity - filigreed ornamentation surrounds arches and windows - shaping the inner world as much as framing the outer one.

But these varieties of Islamic style - far from reflecting a humanistic vision - suggest - a world governed by the rigors of the intellect and the strictures of law.

That world - whether in a mosque or a palace - presumes submission and declares mastery. It - also seduces - for within its all-encompassing bounds - playful ornamentation - and speculation take flight.

However - the individual is not the focus of attention. The position or status of the individual is.

This is quite different from the humane ideal - so often attached to Andalusia*s name. The outcome is not a version of tolerance - though at its best it can offer - a version - of the sublime.

The viewer is absorbed in a formal world that overwhelms - inspiring awe with intricacies that seem beyond comprehension.

Impresionante - - Read more - if you like - about - > La Mezquita

Southern Spanish Architecture

Typical - Southern Spanish Architecture - the inside of the homes are built around interior patios or courtyards - as seen above.

This concept is very Arabic - and - - NO - - front lawns to mow.

Southern Spanish Architecture

Read more about - Cordoba

View Our Canvases of - Andalucia - and read more - about the arts from this - fascinating corner of the World.

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Luna - Bombe - and - - - The Water

Yes - - a friend suggested - quite awhile ago - that we spray the kitties with water - - to show them - when - their acts of mischief - truly disturb us.

We had forgotten this tip - yet - remembered in - a moment - of complete - - des-es-per-a-tion.


The Little Bombe Cat

Bombé is terrified of - the spray bottle ( we only had to use a - wee squeeze - just - once ).

Little Luna

Luna - well - she had this - tremendous expression of hurt and - total confusion fused together - - carried on a disjointed - babble - with - detonating tones - yet now knows - that - there - IS - a limit.

They will both be on holiday soon - as they have been invited to - a cruise around the Greek Islands - so the spray has also been a fortunate introduction to future experiences.

If any of you - would like - their delightful company - please Email them soon - as their social agenda is filling very quickly this season.

Jan Voich

( Nice try Samantha !! - - Thank you Jan )

Jan Voich

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Our Favorite Recipes - From Cordoba


Salmorejo - Umm ... so - Sumamente - Suave

Salmorejo is similar to Gazpacho - as it is - an Andalusian cold soup.

However - the Salmorejo ( which hails from the beautiful Moorish town of Cordoba - of course ) - does not contain cucumber or peppers - and it has the additional - ham and egg - which Gazpacho does not.


  • 1 kg tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 5 - 10 T olive oil
  • 1 or 2 T vinegar
  • 200 g. bread - soaked in water
  • 200 g. Jamon *Serrano*
  • diced Hard-boiled egg - chopped
  • Salt


Peel tomatoes - chop garlic and - squeeze - excess water from bread with your hands.

Place the following - in the blender - tomatoes - garlic - vinegar - bread and salt - blend. Then add the olive oil - in a steady stream - to emulsify the mixture and - produce a nice - thick - salmorejo.

This can be used as a sauce - to serve with vegetables or fish - or on toast - with thin slices of Serrano ham - or thin slivers of desalinated cod - as a tapa or ... serve as a first course in a bowl - garnished with diced ham - and chopped hard-boiled egg. Serves 6.

As always - there are many versions.


More about the Cuisine of Al-Andalus - ( Excellent Article )

Lamb with Honey

Cordero a la Miel - ( Lamb with Honey - Lovely )


  • 1 - leg of lamb boned
  • 5 - tbsp olive oil
  • 1 - large onion - thinly sliced
  • 175g - green peppers - shredded
  • 2 - garlic cloves - chopped
  • 1 - slice lemon
  • 3 tbsp - brandy
  • 120 ml - white wine
  • 0.5 tsp - saffron - crushed
  • 1 tbsp - paprika
  • 0.25 tsp - ground pepper
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp - salt
  • 3 tbsp - wine vinegar
  • 90g - honey

Cut lamb into thick pieces. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onion - peppers and the garlic. Add the pieces of lamb and brown them. Cut the lemon - peel and cut all into shreds - add to the lamb with the brandy and wine. Dissolve the saffron in a little liquid and add to the meat with the paprika - pepper - cinnamon and salt. Cook - covered - until the meat is very tender - about 1 hour. When the meat is done - add the vinegar and honey and cook for 10 minutes more.

Pouring Sherry

Pouring Sherry

Be certain to test the Sherries of Southern Spain - a perfect match for wine - though - are from *Montilla-Moriles* - made with the grapes of Pedro Ximénez - Layrén - Bacardí and Moscatel.

Do not plan to drive for awhile after ... Please.

A siesta - will be perfect now.

There are three basic types of Montilla wine - young fruity wines - aged (crianza) wines and generosos. The varieties include - *el fino* - *el amontillado* - *el palo cortado* - *el oloroso* or *el Pedro Ximénez*.

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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 Velá de la Fuensanta

Flamenco Festival in Cordoba

A Flamenco Festival in Cordoba

September 8 - Fuensanta Fair

This fair has been held in Cordoba - since the middle of the 15th Century. Four days of music - dancing and fun - organized by the local residents - and - now popularly known as the "Velá" (a velada or social gathering) - of the Fuensanta district.

The finest Flamenco is found in Andalucia - *Al-Andalus*

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What to do When You are Down

Plan a Trip

The planning is very entertaining - almost more than the travel itself.

A - day trip - - weekend - preferably a month ...

... all trips are fine ( except over a rock ). We suggest - traveling to New York City - visit the Art Galleries - Museums and - especially - plan a visit to

The Frick Collection

Phone: 212-288-0700 - Fax: 212-628-4417

1 East 70th Street ( between Madison and Fifth Avenues )

New York, NY 10021-4967

Exhibitions at The Frick Collection

October 12 - December 31, 2005

Memling Portrait*s Exhibition

Memling*s Portraits - The Frick Collection*s special fall exhibition - offers the most comprehensive gathering to date - of works in this genre by the celebrated Netherlandish artist Hans Memling (c. 1435 - 1494). Memling*s oeuvre comprises some one hundred paintings - of which thirty are portraits.

Memling*s Portraits made its debut at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid - in February of 2005 - later - traveled to the Groeninge Museum in Bruges - June 2005 - before its presentation in The Frick Collection - October 2005 - the final venue of this tour.

Memling*s Portraits

On this bifrontal panel - considered to be - one of the jewels of the Thyssen Collection - you see - on one side - the figure of a Gentleman Praying - and - on the other side

Vase of Flowers c. 1485 - Hans Memling

... a superb - Vase of Flowers c. 1485 - Hans Memling

These two paintings - most probably belonged to a triptych - with an image of the annunciation on the central panel - and the portrait of the wife on the other side panel.

This assumption is based upon the bifrontal character - as well as - the pilgrim*s vase containing Madonna lilies - irises and columbines - symbolic flowers related to the Virgin - ( divine grace - innocence - forgiveness of sins and yearning to be with God ).

The quality of the work speaks for itself.

The Gentleman Praying - is enclosed within an exterior - velvet light -, giving life to the textures - defining the golden tones and capturing details with a truly refined technical skill.

The Vase of Flowers is placed within a perspective cube - also with a remarkable suggestion of light. In the autonomous treatment of flowers and objects you see a clear precedent of the still life genre. The painting measures 11.5 x 9 inches - (29.2 x 22.5 cm).

Needlepoint Kits for The Frick Collection

Needlepoint Designers - Samantha Taylor ( Jan Voich ) - inspired by this exquisite Hans Memling Painting - designed three different needlepoint tapestries.

Lifting the Tablecover - out of the painting - to recreate the entire Tapestry - the first needlework design was born - and named - Memling.

Needlepoint Kits

A second design was created later - repeating the four central motifs - commonly referred to as a Memling Gul in literature - as Memling often used depiction's of this style of rugs in his paintings. Thus we decided to name this new design - Memling Gul.

Finally the third design - using one central motif - was developed - and named - Memling Motif.

The - Memling Needlepoint Pillows and Needlepoint Coaster - ( seen above ) - are - now on loan - exhibited in - The Frick Collection - for your enjoyment - during their Fall Exhibition.

Samantha Taylor Needlepoint Kits for The Frick Collection are - a Special - Limited Edition - Customized for this - Extraordinary Exhibition

Needlepoint Kits Needlepoint Kits

Memling Blue and Memling Green are the same exact designs - with different color combinations.

The entire - Memling Needlepoint Kits Collection - took six years of dedication to develop.

Memling Blue

Needlepoint Kits

These two other color combinations - from this Samantha Taylor Needlework Collection - are also available for purchase during the Memling Portrait*s Exhibition at The Frick Collection

Needlepoint Kits

Needlepoint Kits

Needlepoint Kits

Memling Green > Needlepoint Kits

Needlepoint Kits

Read More - about the Memling Needlepoint Kits and Rugs - by Samantha Taylor. This past link will take you to the complete section on our Website - just select the links at the top of each page - to view and read more about this extensive Collection.

Needlepoint Kits

If you would like to plan another trip - be sure to spend time with - The Thyssen - here in Madrid - our favorite place to visit. Absolutely Fantastic !!

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We Love to Hear from Our Friends.

Mouse and Cat

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.

Just select below and write - it is that simple. Make some time.

Nice Thoughts from Our Friends.


California Catz


Hello - Although I have not yet bought one of your canvases ( I have been out of work many months now - lots of time to needlepoint - no money ! ) I have planned for a long time to do many of your designs - and *Sotogrande* ( the lady in kimono? ) has usually been my first choice - although it is hard to rank them !

Singing Birds

A local shop has a service where they help beginners like me plan which stitches to use on a canvas - and I imagine something wonderful for this canvas - which begs for interpretation by each stitcher.

Will it be available again ? Are there any left ? I could sell one of my dogs - or my ice skates to buy the canvas ! ( only kidding - I love them all too much ! )

Many thanks for your help - and the ongoing inspiration of your web site - which - - I found by accident ! - from - Lori in San Francisco

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15th Century: Ceramics from Manises for Europe - America and the Orient

15th Century: Ceramics from Manises

During the Arab era - areas surrounding Valencia were already important ceramic producing regions - and smart business policies were the best support for a distribution network of ceramic products in different Christian and Muslim Mediterranean states - through the port of Valencia which was the most active Mediterranean port at the time.

The favorable treatment given to products from Manises by the Republic of Venice was well known. Tiles from Manises and Paterna were also used in constructions in Liguria - and tiles were sent to Egypt - Syria and even Turkey.

However Italy was perhaps the most important client. In 1445-57 - Alfonso the Magnanimous ordered his palace - Castel Nuovo - in Naples - to be floored with tiles form Manises decorated with his coat-of-arms. Manises also became the central supplier of paving for the Papacy itself - whose rooms it decorated during the 15th Century.

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Favorite Sayings

Like nearly all languages - Castellano (pronounced Castiyano) 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.


Si tuviera- un Circo - Hasta los Enanos Crecerían

If I owned a circus - even the dwarfs - would grow.

This is a - very typical saying - used when things just - do not seem to work right - and someone is in a pessimistic mood.

Autumn ... is here !!


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


We celebrated our 10th anniversary last month !!

Needlepoint News - October - Samantha Taylor news from Spain about Cordoba - Cat Stories - Spanish Recipes - - Needlepoint Kits for the Frick Collection Fall Exhibition - Memling Portraits - Spanish Flamenco - Spanish Tiles - Circo

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Feel free to email or phone us - with any questions - to provide some feedback on our products - give us suggestions for new ideas and themes - or to just say hello !

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