Among all the grandchildren of Queen Victoria, Moretta of Prussia is somehow close to my heart. Perhaps it is because she seems to be one of the forgotten ones who has no place in history. Her life was - in the great scheme of how things are written in history - insignificant. She wasn't a saint, she wasn't a heroine, she was, from the start, an also-ran, I guess, and yet I feel for her.

There is a beautiful book of letters from a few brief months of her life, "Queen Victoria at Windsor and Balmoral", edited by James Pope-Hennessy, which gives such a picture into her thoughts, and her thoughts are so touching. The letters are taken from a time when she was - possibly suffering from some kind of anorexia - staying with her grandmother, Queen Victoria. Over the next few days, I would like to write more thoughts about her.

The forgotten people - like the children in the mills and mines, or the members of royal families who play 'bit parts' in history - always stike me as so interesting.

Freedom and Learning from History

In the ancient days of 'O' levels, it was necessary to learn dates and names - The Treaty of Vienna, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Treaty of Versailles; Hastings, Agincourt, Edgehill, The Somme...So much of it was made up of battles - who won, who lost, how the boundaries of countries were redrawn.
Behind the dates and facts were outcomes and it was very much like the old cliché of 'history is one damned thing after another.'
Eventually, social history was introduced. Out went the battles, the treaties and the maps, and in came what was basically a history of 'the poor'. In came factories, children at work, inventions, railways, unions, schools: a kind of history of 'the people.'
It is my firm belief that the only way to learn from history is to understand the individuals - not 'children at work' not kings and rulers or politicians, but individuals: their motivations and psychology because the more we looks at these things, the more we seem them played out time after time.
How many insane rulers have dominated societies? And, more the point, how many millions of people have listened to those rulers, believing themselves powerless until it came to a point where they could stand it no more and the outcome was either a bloody revolution or a war? It seems that throughout history 98% of people have wanted to be led. They did not want to look into psychology or motivation - their own or anyone else's - to see beyond the appearance of things and so sleepwalked into their own abyss. They did not ask, "Why does this man want to rule us? Why do we need to be ruled?" Instead they said, "He is the king/president/Fuhrer/Caesar and he will change everything and make everything wonderful for us!" Perhaps he is a wise king and does his best. Perhaps he is an avaricious power-seeking person. Perhaps he is completely insane ..It doesn't matter what he is - what matters is that people have forgotten that they have the ability to choose their own course, make their own decisions and have entrusted their lives to him.
The bad news is (to my mind) that person can never deliver the expectations.
When they wake up to this fact, the response is anger and a sense of betrayal. If the ruler is a good man, wanting the best for his people - like Tsar Nicholas - they destroy him. If he is a power-seeking individual, like Stalin or Lenin, he destroys them.
The good news is (to my mind) we can learn from history and the biggest lesson is to realize that no one is going to change our world and make it great and make everything right. Only we, as individuals, can change our own lives. There isn't anyone to do this for us. I would venture so far as to say - from a religious perspective - Jesus and all the great spiritual leaders, handed power back to people and what did they do? They ran after him saying, "Saviour! Saviour! Save us!"
King, Tsar, President, Fuhrer, Comrade, Saviour....They never deliver and we kill them are allow them to crush us. Our choice is to wake up and say, "We no longer need to look outside ourselves to someone else to give us freedom or prosperity or hope. It is all within us and there is no one to blame, no one to depend on and no one to deceive us." Freedom comes when we stop expecting it to come from someone else.


The docu-drama, "World War II, Behind Closed Doors" shows the manipulation and endless one-upmanship between Churchill, Stalin and Roosavelt. Sometimes it seems as those three men sat down and played a game of chess with people's lives. The masses of ordinary people were the pawns in the game, all believing they were fighting for the good of humanity.
When the programme shows interiors of the Kremlin Palaces and shows Stalin walking down those corridors, I cannot help but think how history wrote of 'Bloody Nicholas' - a man who loved his people, who abdicated to prevent a civil war and so as not to abandon his allies - and compare it with the really bloody butcher, Stalin, who for his own aggrandizement murdered millions of his own people as well as the thousand of Polish officers and, basically, anyone who stood in the way of his plans.

Dear Nicholas II never wanted to be Tsar. He never asked for power. He did not want to rule and took his place because he felt it was his duty. What came after him? Greedy, selfish, envious power-seeking Lenin and Stalin...

At the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Nicholas - then in captivity - said, "And they call me a traitor!"
Seeing Churchill, Roosavelt and Stalin, you have to think, "And they call him 'Bloody' Nicholas"????

Being Left-Handed

I never saw much in being left-handed; no one ever made anything of it (apart from people saying, "Don't you write strangely?" but I know of other people for whom it was a major issue. It was amazing to me that, according to a recent TV documentary, George VI's stammer came from his father insistance that he write with his right hand. Maybe our brains work differently, or maybe nowadays something is being made of something that is of no significance.

Having grown up in a right-handed world, I can't use left-handed scissors or many of the other things which are now created to accommodate us left-handed people. The biggest thing for me was being unable to sew or knit until I read something about how these things are taught to us by right-handers and we are trying to battle against something that comes naturally to us...But I guess my brain has been so busily working to be right-handed that these things are just too befuddling for it.

A few famous left-handers include - Leonardo Da Vinci, Lewis Carroll, Franz Kafka, Thomas Carlyle, Bob Dylan, Prince William (good for him!) etc. etc. It's fun to be different..a bit like those people who have a different blood group...and that's another story....

I'd like to hear of other people's left-handed experiences....

If Shakespeare knew the Romanovs...

Shakespeare's model of writing, grounded in Aristotle's formula - the tragic hero/protagonist who had to be noble and whose destiny was wrought by his own fatal flaw, and who met a tragic end, is something so timeless and inspiring.

When it comes to writing of the Romanovs, all the elements are already in place: the king, (or Tsar), the glory (Imperial Russia), the secret tragedy (Alexei's haemophilia), the fatal flaw, (Nicholas' trust in other people) and the ultimate tragedy (the massacre of a family - a massacre so tragic that it is far more powerful than the end of Hamlet, where everyone is slain) . The Romanov story fits Shakespeare's and Aristotle's pattern to such a degree that I often wish that Shakespeare were still here to write their true story with his depths of understanding of psychology and motivation, and his own brilliant command of language!

Oh, for another Shakespeare to write this story! Often I think that when Nicholas and Alexandra were in captivity, these words from King Lear might well have been something they could have shared:

"We two alone will sing like birds i' the we'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too,
Who loses and who wins; who's in, who's out;
And take upon 's the mystery of things,
As if we were God's spies…"

And the death of the beautiful Tsarevich Alexei...wouldn't Shakespeare have written,
"Goodnight, sweet prince, and flight of angels guide thee to thy rest..."

Ah! For another Shakespeare to tell their tale!

Technique---Curling with a flat-iron

Finally! A new post, and a tutorial to boot! I have had many, many, many requests for this. My apologies. I have been waiting for my husband to be home long enough to take pictures. That hasn't happened...he has been a little busy with a work project, so I pulled out my handy dandy tri-pod and my old camera with a remote. Unfortunately, the remote wasn't working. You really need both hands to do this so I hope explain it well.

I put in some Garnier Curl Sculpting Creme and went to work. When I curl their hair with a flat iron, I usually curl the ends under first. I can't always get the ends the way I want and this eliminates that frustration. So start at the base of the hair and slide the iron down and when you get almost to the bottom, twist the flat-iron just ever so slightly to get a nice bent under shape, more if you want more curls.
Like so.

Take a section of hair and separate it from the rest of the hair. Clamp your flat iron on the base of the hair. I take the end of the hair and wrap it around the flat iron, if only to give it direction and keep it going in the same movement. This is where the bevel on your flat-iron comes into play. You are basically using the bevel to curl the hair. So after I clamp onto the hair, I pull the hair on the bevel in the direction I am curling. Now, keeping the iron clamped, slowly slide it away from the base of the hair towards you. As you are sliding it out, you slowly twist the flat iron like you would when wrapping hair in a curling iron

See how I have my hand holding onto her hair and it is wrapped around the iron? That is not a necessary makes for more control AND it keeps the hair together to make more of a ringlet. If you don't do that, the curl ends up being unpredictable.

Here is where I am twisting and sliding at the same time.

Follow this same fluid movement to the end of the hair.

And let go.

This second one shows more detail than the first.



Twisting and sliding

Now I find as I get towards the end that sometimes the hair gets tight, so I loosen my grip on my flat iron.

Like so

Then pull your flat-iron out of the hair towards the ground.

Finish the hair

All this took me two minutes, tops.

But I didn't want to leave ringlets, so I ran my fingers through the curls.

And separated them by pulling the top from the bottom.

Then sprayed

And scrunched


I hope this helps for those who have questions. When my husband gets home...a video as well.


I love statues - I try not to, but I can't help it.

Our cities are filled with statues most of which we pass by, never knowing anything about what or whom they represent. It's lovely to see the instantly recognizable Queen Victoria in most English cities, and then there are forgotten soldiers and heroes of wars that are now politically incorrect but who mattered once, and occasionally are moved or hidden away, according to what is acceptable in any given age. Churches are filled with statues that bear no resemblance whatsoever to the lives of the saints they are supposed to represent - gentle smiles and uplifted eyes as though they suffer nothing in the midst unspeakable torture! - and all the same, I love statues - they tell stories.

One day, I went to Westminster Abbey in search of the statue of Ella - Grand Duchess Elizabeth. After searching every nook and cranny (and finding some amazing stories but unable to find Ella) I gave up, disheartened, went outside and, sitting in the sun (a rare sight that summer!), looked up at the sky and saw her among the other 20th Century martyrs above the West Door. It took me by happy surprise - always looking the wrong place and then finding what I was looking for when I gave up trying. There was something poignant about that, too...the thought of her being out of sight, in second place...a bit like those statues that are lost beneath leafy glades and overgrown parks - a footnote in history. And there is something that I think she would have appreciated about that - the kind of statue that says, "Yes, I did what I did. Maybe I made a difference for some people and I don't want to be centre-stage."

It rather reminds me of children running through poppy fields besides war memorials. The busy world goes on, we walk past statues and whether they are heroes, kings, villains or saints, it all just goes to making up life today. Statues make me think of the athletes in races who hand on the baton. Statues seems to say, "Okay, it's your race now...go on and take it up from where we left off...."

I wonder if, when Ella walked into the Abbey for her grandmother's Golden Jubilee celebration, she looked up at the door and had any inkling that one day her statue would stand there. I doubt she did and I'm glad it does.

Marie-Antoinette's Dress: Podcast

This is an interesting podcast about the restoration of one of Marie-Antoinette's dresses. It was designed by her couturier, Rose Bertin: Marie-Antoinette's Dress

Who Wrote the Script?

"All the world's a stage..." Imagine, if you will, that we are all players with our 'entrances and exits'. Imagine, if you will, that your life right now is a play and you are acting your part. Is it a comedy or a tragedy? A dull routine soap opera or an epic film?
Before the performance, comes the script that is learned by heart, you know your character and can play your role to perfection.
"I am so unfortunate...", "I am so lucky..." "Things never work out right for me...", "Other people are the lucky ones...." Whatever you say is scripted and you are so great an actor that you have mastered that part to perfection. What a fabulous performance! So accomplished an actor that the part s/he was playing was every bit real not only to the audience, but even to the actor him/herself.
It's my understanding that everything we do and are begins with a script. The script is written in our souls/subconscious mind. What we think about all day comes into our experience. And, by 'think about,' I mean in the unguarded moments when, much of the time, there is nothing but criticism, fear and noise in our heads. Some script is there and sooner or later it plays out in our day to day performance - the art of living.
But, the big question is, "Who wrote this script?"
It's so easy to put it onto fate, or the great Author of Life...and to me the interesting and shocking thing is that I did. I wrote my script. You wrote yours. We didn't write them when we were thinking of what we want to do and how we want to spend our lives. We wrote them in our unguarded moments; we wrote them while watching horror films or beautiful scenes. We wrote them absent-mindedly while listening to the beauty of music or the screaming of so-called music that shouts of nothing but violence. We wrote them while loving others, or while thinking badly of others....We wrote them. The Author of Life, in my view, has enough faith in us to entrust us with that responsibility. We are more powerful than we know...and that is why, in my view, it's so important to guard our thoughts, and what we allow into our minds and hearts and ears and eyes.
And the great thing is...if we don't like the part we've been playing, we simply rip up that script and start again. All works of art require hours of labour and love and effort so we might find it difficult to change scripts overnight, but that's what it's all about.

Happy Birthday, Prince Charles!

Happy Birthday, Prince Charles! He turned 60 recently.

Whatever you think of the Prince, he has helped many people with his Prince's Trust

Prince Charles meets the crowd on his 60th Birthday

Lost Little Boys Who Rule The World

Supposing we started from childhood and looked at the heroes and heroines of history. Let's take Churchill as an example of a hero of history. Once there was a sad little boy whose mother abandoned him, wasn't interested in him and sent him to a school where he received a daily thrashing. He wrote to her regularly and she occasionally replied. The sad little boy wept and his resentment grew. All he wanted was the love of his mother.

The mother's husband died and she, having spent her life to date, and being a victim herself of the chess game that families play among themselves, switched her ambition to her son. Suddenly, the little boy - by now almost a man - took centre-stage in her life and he milked it for all it was worth. The mother paid him every attention; her whole life was devoted to him...and how he relished it! She was American. When war came, how he longed for her approval! If only America were part of the war...(if only my mother loved me...still lost little boy at school)...What if an American ship were sunk...then America would join the war...The Lousitania. Oh what tragedy! And the little boy got his mother's (and America's support).

Earlier, another little boy longed for his mother's love. He thought she didn't love him because he spent much of his life in the care of tutors who were repeatedly (through his eyes) cruel to him - forcing him to mount a horse, when he was constantly falling off it; forcing him into machines to stretch his arm that never grew properly (thanks - in his eyes - to his cruel mother who brought him into the world that way). What could he do to win her love? Show himself to be a strong man! Grow a great big moustache...wear military uniforms...look the part of a great military leader...Dear Kaiser Wilhelm (whom I happen to love) - another lost little boy.

If we go back to Ivan the Terrible, or even Caligula ('little boots') we see history is filled with lost little boys in positions of power. Does the world change? I think not...but before we accept anymore leadership or any more messages from people who tell us they can make everything right, let's look into their childhood and see where they're coming from....

I don't know what to title this

I must apologize to all of you. My creative juices haven't been flowing lately. I have some personal issues that have taken some precedence in my life. Issues that have made me sad lately. I know as women we go through times like these and I know that I will pull out of it...that things will get better...that my creative juices will start flowing again.

I have a giveaway to do...a darling giveaway. I just haven't had the energy to come up with hairstyles to go with it. I am sad about that.

I had a friend say to me that it seems like I have a perfect little life. Here is my testament that I am flawed...and sometimes my life is as well. So please, have a bit of patience with me. Things will right themselves again...they always do.


We wore our poppies with admiration for the courage of so many people, and with sadness for the horrors of the futility of it all, and particularly for the sorrow of the First World War. When we wake up to the voice of our individuality and realize we don't need to do this anymore, or to listen to leaders acting out their own insecurities on the world stage...Well...

This is a song Poppies:

Young man with a smile on an old photograph
In a uniform smart as your father before,
Pack up your troubles and daring to laugh
As you tramp through the town on your way to the war...

Will you die at a price? Will you die for a shilling?
Is it worth all the pain and the things we don't know?
Is it worth all the horror and bloodshed and killing?
Are you willing to die so a poppy can grow?

Young man with a tear as you walk away crying,
Put down your gun now and lift up your head,
War time is over and breezes are sighing
Through fields of small flowers that blood has stained red.

Did you die at a price? Did you die for a shilling?
Is it worth all the pain and the things we don't know?
Is it worth all the horror and bloodshed and killing?
Were you willing to die so a poppy could grow?

Young man, you who look at the old photograph,
In a uniform smart as your grandfather wore,
Looking so brave now and daring to laugh
As you follow his footsteps and march to the war,

Has the offer been raised? Is it still just a shilling?
Lives are bought cheaply. It's always been so.
When so mine fine people need bloodshed and killing,
We shall slaughter our sons so that poppies can grow...

My opinion on school pictures

I have had several people ask me what they should do for their school pictures. We all know I love fancy schmancy hair and that I pull my girls hair back on a regular basis, however, this is the ONE occasion where I think that simple is best.

I learned that from experience. I tried to be fancy with my oldest dd's hair when she was in first grade. The result of that was that in her picture, half of her hair had fallen, the bows had twisted and it just looked ridiculous. I would scan and post a picture, but my computer has had a nasty virus for the last two weeks and my husband had to do some digging and in the process, my scanner/printer isn't working. Sigh.

Pictures should be timeless. The less extreme the hair, the better. I just took my dd's to have their pictures taken. Just before we left, I sat them on the front porch and snapped a picture.

See, nothing too crazy about their hair. The most "extreme" thing was the curls in Tess's hair. I do like to keep their hair modern, so we did some corkscrew curls. That was it.
So please learn from my mistake...fancy is NOT always better.


We did this on triangle day for preschool.

Start by parting the hair from one ear to the other.

From the front to the line in the back, make a triangle. Like so.

When I originally did this, it was a lot more polished, but you get the basic idea. You now part from that first triangle, another triangle. Like so.

Repeat until you reach the ears.
Now, here is where it is up to you. I parted my middle triangle into two and pulled the ponytails from each side into one ponytail. You could do two ponytails with all of the hair...whatever.

Now, after I did that, I realized that the ponytails were a little droopy and that made me sad.
I don't like droopy.
So I pulled the two ponytails into one ponytail. And I made my triangles into a square.

Basics...Inside Out French Braids/Dutch Braids

AKA, the only hairstyle seen 'round these parts lately. Life has not slowed down much. This third kid thing has really cramped my hair style. My girls have been sporting these mucho lately because it is fast and easy. Either both braids will stop at the base of the neck, go all the way down, be pulled together into one ponytail and finished with bows.

Yeah, I suck.

Emo and Scene Kids Part II

emo scene hair

YES, the major difference between emos and scenesters are their attitude. But I don't believe all 'scene kids' have an original personality, as you say 'dont follow the personality'. Yea, they dont follow the emo personality. But they still have one they mostly all have.. they think highly of themselves.

Another difference is, emos are generally natured to black. Scene kids love colors. Rainbows, neon colors..anything and everything!(Although I see emos starting to like rainbows now..xD)

Another thing is the 'obsessions'. Emos love, mostly Jack Skellington, and such things as that. While Scene kids are more into the look of say, Sanrio characters, like Hello Kitty. And also, Gloomy Bear is a big thing for them.

While emos and scenes are close to each other, I think the difference is more than what it seems. It isnt just the personality, but the style too. The common thing shared among them is probably the hair. But scene hair is most definately BIGGER.xD

You should be able to tell the difference, on the spot, from an emo or a scene kid. Guys are harder to distinguish than girls most of the time. But see a guy with a lot of confidence and he seems like hed have a big mouth on him, wearing bright colors, and big sun glasses..I think its safe to assume hes 'scene'. While a guy wearing mostly black, quiet in the corner, walking slowly..well, thats emo. But even if an emo doesnt follow the personality, you can still tell them apart by the overall style.

By: Stephie

Finally a solution for the future of Salem Castle

Finally the Government of Baden-Württemberg and the Grad Ducal family of Baden have found an agreement about the future of Salem Castle. The Country Baden-Württemberg will buy Salem and pay for it and other things 60 Millions € at the Family of Baden. The part of the Castle where Margrave Max and Margravine Valerie of Baden will not be sold. The Family of Baden will also sell art reasures and rennounce all possible rights on art treasures where the ownership ist not clear.
Here are the details: 19,8 Mio. € for the site 17 Mio. € for the art treasures 6 Mio. € for the socalled Prälatur (without the part where the Margrave is living) 15 Mio. € for the assignement of claims on art treasures 4,5 Mio. € maintenance of the roof.
Originally Salem was not a Castle it was a Cistercienser Monastery. In 1804 the Monastery was given to the Grand Duke's of Badfen and became then a castle. Since the end of the Monarchy in 1918 it is the Residence of the Family and since 1928 the head of the family lives there. Since 1920 it also houses the boarding scholl Internat Salem which was founded by prince Max and Kurt Hahn.

Statue of Prince Wilhelm of Baden

One of the 3 Inner-Courts of the Castle

The Lower Gate

The Rentamt