Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Vintage Photo - Girl with a Kitten

This is a vintage photo I have found ages ago, so I do not remember the source, sorry. I just love how these two look together; they look comfortable. The kitten is alert but I think it is the photographer and not the girl who is making him somewhat tense. This girl is lovely with her windswept hair and she seems to look straight into my eyes. Her dress and booties are adorable, and overall she is such a nice child that I feel like hugging her. 

And just imagine that the photo was taken so many years ago, she has long grown up and died (hopefully at an old age and with lots of grandchildren she survived by)! I cannot say I just love vintage photos because sometimes they make me sad; I can say that they attract and fascinate me. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

On Dogs and Children. And Happy Holidays to Everyone!

My daughter Madina and my Malinois Jager became best of friends during the last year or so. When she was smaller, she would often feel jealous because I spent quite a lot of time with the dog, too. Besides, she could not really do much with him - he was too strong for her to play with. Of course Jager was always extra careful with her, because we explained to him in a very persuasive way that he should not hurt the human child, but that meant they would not play - he would prefer to keep away. Now they weight about the same - Jager being much stronger of course, but still, it is easier now for them to interact. They play games - for instance, Madina hides toys for him to seek. She is also now very skilful in petting him - she used to be somewhat clumsy before.

All in all, I am very happy about how they go together - my 8 years' old daughter and my 4 years' old Malinois from a working kennel in the Netherlands, a very serious dog who can be quite dangerous and make great harm to a person (which is basically what he is bred for - protection work). We did our best to ensure they both understand how to treat each other and have a clear hierarchy - the human child is more important and is never to be harmed. So, now they are a great team, but I always keep an eye on them to ensure safety. I do not leave them alone if I leave home and put the dog into the crate, just in case; this is not even so much because I do not trust the dog, but who knows what the child might invent while I am not looking? 

These are just some thoughts which came to my mind while I was looking for an appropriate photo for the New Year Wishes. So, now come the wishes! 

Happy New Year to everyone! Wishing you peace, love, great health, prosperity, cool adventures and lots of fun! Take a good care of yourself, your family and pets, and enjoy life! 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Uzbek Woman in Ikat Gown with a Boy

Just an old photo that I want to share. Both the woman and the child seem amazing to me - very beautiful and enigmatic. They seem to be looking into the future, unknown to them at that point, but known to us now... not their personal future, of course, but the overall history of the region and people. 

I do not know who they are, but obviously they were from a rich family, judging by their clothing and her jewellery. The woman's hands are obviously not familiar with hard work, and are heavy with lavish rings and bracelets. Note that their gowns are made from the same gorgeous ikat silk. The woman is wearing 'tilla kosh' headpiece - 'golden brows' - and a shawl, which could be Russian, judging by what I can see from the pattern. Beautiful!

Woman in full wedding regalia with child, photograph ca. 1860, Registan Museum, Samarkand. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, Illustrated by Kalinovsky

Now I have the privilege of owning this amazing book - Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There with illustrations by Gennady Kalinovsky, an eminent Soviet (Russian) artist. I collect books with his works, and this one is a pearl of my collection. No, not even a pearl. A Cullinan diamond!

I am sure no one needs extended comments and explanations, as everyone has read the book. If you have not, or if you have forgotten - read it! It is a true masterpiece. I have read a good review of the illustrations today and it said that probably the book was so fascinating and outstanding not because it was clever, full of chess and mathematics and absurdities and curiosities, but because it was full of love for the girl, and these illustrations do reflect that love and desire to take care. I think this might be true. And although Alice is not as pretty here as in some other books, she is very touching, vulnerable and alive. And all the creatures are of course immensely cute! The White Queen is so helpless and silly, and the Black Queen is condensed fury and determination. My favourite one, however, is Alice in the boat, floating among flowers and lights. It is pure magic and I love it.

Yes, some people still need and want paper books. Just look at this magic of lines and shades. And imagine a child reading this, and his or her imagination working, transforming this into a different reality, playing with the words and images - instead of just watching a bright movie, as simple as fast food.

These are the illustrations which are clickable - enjoy! I have not scanned them, but found them here.


Friday, December 26, 2014

Lutheran Church in Tashkent. And Merry Christmas!

We have had some beautiful snow recently. I was passing by this old Lutheran Church and took some photos.

I love this little church; it looks a bit toy-like to me, due to the size, but it does possess the dignity and significance. And people come there... we do not have many Lutherans, but there are some, and I am glad they have their Kirche.

It looks so peaceful, as if this were not in the center of a large city with 5 millions of people. This church was launched in 1899 based on the design of a well-known Russian architect Aleksey Benois. Construction was funded by Karl Hironim Teodor Krause, who was a Russian doctor, botanist, researcher and an eminent social activist.

In Soviet time, when religion was oppressed here, the church was used as a warehouse. In the end of 1970s, it was given to the high music school and was used for opera classes. Fortunately, it was not demolished or even too damaged. Then in the 90s the church was given back to the Lutheran community. Now there are about 200 people in the Lutheran parish in Tashkent.

It is good to have many confessions in the country, when people live peacefully and tolerate each other. This is what Tashkent has always been famous for. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and God knows who else live here together. We bake a pie for Easter and give a piece to our Muslim neighbours; they do the same at Eid. We share some traditions, and we share these streets, trees, bazaars, fruit and vegetables, mountains and hot Uzbek sun. We are neighbours and friends, and this is how it should be, I believe.

I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Wishing peace, love, strong health and prosperity to everyone! 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pretty Twins - Antique Replica Mignonette Dolls

This is a pair of the loveliest mignonette dolls I have ever seen. These are not real antique dolls; they are amazingly beautiful and stylish replicas, made with great mastery. A mignonette is a French pocket doll, easy to carry around. As a girl, I always preferred small toys, although of course my Soviet plastic dolls were much simpler than these beauties. And these twins are just stunning! I gasped when I saw them. 

They are all bisque, finely molded and hand painted; they have glass non-sleep eyes and real hair made into intricate hair-does which cannot be undone. These twins are very alike, but there are subtle differences which give so much more interest to them; the faces are very slightly different, and the colour of eyes. I also have a feeling that there are small differences in their bodies but cannot quite identify them. They are just different and that makes them look more alive.

The dolls have the lovelies faces with whimsical expression and the most endearing bodies which are very far from the Barbie perfection. Can you imagine anything more stylish and retro than these softly rounded lines? They have bodies of children, but their faces are much older, and the painted stockings give them a flavour of something... well, not so modest, which contrasts strangely and disturbingly with their innocent eyes. A very decadent couple, these dolls are. 

They have markings on the back of their necks, under the hair: they just say 1978. So, they are real vintage dolls.  I bought them for myself, hoping to do something with them, like making clothes and taking photos, but never got around to doing that. I love to look at them now and then, as I admire them wholeheartedly, but I would rather let them go to someone who would enjoy them more than I do and would pay more attention. They are for sale in our Etsy shop. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Walking with a Little Fox

Today we went for a walk in the park. The morning was not sunny, but we enjoyed it nonetheless -  it was a beautiful autumn weather. 

My daughter recently became very interested in making her own toys. I understand her - it can be difficult to find exactly what you want. What if you need a tiny fox which easily fits in your pocket and can be hidden in your hand? Where do you find a fox exactly that tiny and with the big beautiful eyes and thick tail? So, we bought some Sculpey clay on Amazon... and Madina made the fox.

It does not really matter that the little creature is somewhat awkward. She sees something in it and gives her own meaning to the tiny sculpture; she polishes and refines it in her mind. Such a primitive toy might be even better, in my opinion, because it leaves something to the imagination of the child. 

So, we baked the fox in the oven early in the morning, to make her durable, and then took her to the park with us and played there. 

We brought a bowl for the fox and fed her with some vegetarian food (had no meat with us). 

...and then we made a cosy home for the fox. You can see that she feels very comfortable there.

So we played and walked for a while, until it started raining, And then we had to go home, because, unfortunately, the fox's house was too small for us. She was inviting us, but we would not fit in.

The next task would be to make a wolf and some other animals to keep company. I share my daughter's happiness and excitement about making her own toys - making something with her own hands!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Looking for Totoro

I have never been good at giving presents. I have always had difficulties with choosing - fretting that I might be buying a wrong thing and it will not be appreciated - and besides, I have never felt that I could handle the process of gift giving graciously. This is despite the fact that I love giving presents. I just do it in a very simple manner, as a rule - just hand the things over, and this is it.

While my somewhat awkward manner might be acceptable for adults, I decided that it must be different with my child: I wanted her to feel that her birthday was a very special day.

We watched the wonderful film, My Neighbor Totoro, shortly before her birthday. I knew she would love it, and secretly ordered the toy well in advance. Of course, Madina loved Totoro and kept saying how much she would like a plush toy like that, to sleep with. It was wise to plan ahead as these toys could not be found in Tashkent.

In the morning on Madina' birthday, while she slept, I made a set of cards with Tororos big and small  and instructions; they were leading from one room to another. I have been drawing very little in the recent years and my hand is not as steady as it used to be, but I did my best.

They lead from her pillow to the sofa in the living room, then to the bathroom, and to the basket with apples in the balcony; to the bedroom, to the cupboard, and, finally - to the big antique bucket!

And there he was, the Big Gray Totoro, sitting patiently inside the bucket and waiting to be found!

I cannot tell you how happy and excited my daughter was throughout the whole process of searching, and how fascinated she was with the Totoro who appeared in our home in such a magical fashion.

Since then, she has made several sets of similar instruction cards for me: they usually end in the most touching love letters. She is a very good learner. And I keep learning with her, too.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Russian Shawl Called Prayer

There is a Russian photographer, Dmitry Chernoff (, who is among my favorites because of his lovely photographs of girls and women wearing traditional shawls. Dmitry is very good at feeling the spirit of the Russian shawl and sharing it with the viewer. Just look at these photos!

All these pictures show the same shawl made at Pavlovo Posad, Russia. This shawl is called Prayer, and this is a very old design. The circles of flowers symbolize repetition of a prayer. It was first designed by Constantin Abolikhin in 1930-ies, and then restored by Galina Sotskova several decades later. 

This is a somewhat dark shawl in subdued colors. I love its quiet beauty; perfect for those days when you do not want attention. When you want to be left alone.

However it can look very striking, too - for instance, if paired with a black dress, like here. This shawl is majestic!

This is just a general photo for you; you see that the shawl's design consists of circles. They symbolize repetition of a prayer. The shawl is very balanced and would look great as a chair throw, too.

I do not have one for sale at the moment. However, you can find other vintage Russian shawls and scarves in our Etsy shop. We also carry upcycled Russian shawls which we turned into scarves.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Bukhara Waking Up

I just came from a very short business trip to Bukhara. I only had half an hour in the morning before work to walk around a bit and see some of my favorite places.

Bukhara is especially beautiful when it is almost empty, waking up early in the morning, cleaning herself and preparing for another day with thousands of tourists.

This is one of the many beautiful domes where dozens of little shops are situated.

Shop owners are displaying their goods. 

 Traditional brass vessels. I am not a fan, but they do look amazing.

These are fragments of a crypt which was only recently uncovered. It has not been restored yet and I believe it looks really good the way it is now. Although of course restoration is necessary to make sure the building does not deteriorate further. 

And this is just an old door with a covered hole which looks almost like a pet door. But I think this was a window to see who is knocking.

The photos are nothing special, really - I was in a hurry, and I am not good at photographing architecture, anyway. But I hope to go to Bukhara with my family later this year and take more photos, hopefully better ones. Anyway, what is important is that I have seen the beautiful city and remember what it looks, smells and feels like...

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