Thursday, 30 December 2010

Sunday, 26 December 2010

M-J in Elegant Holiday Clothing

An elegant white cotton blouse is worn with an ankle-length green velvet skirt, topped with a purple-black-and-white pashmina and accompanied by purple stockings  and black suede pumps. This ensemble is right for daytime and evening wear during the winter holidays.

M-J de Mesterton, Christmas 2010
©Elegant Survival

Doña Juana de Castilla-León y Aragón

Don Felipe (Philip of Hapsburg) and Doña Juana 
Joanna, Queen of Castile and Aragon

From Wikipedia:

Portrait by Juan de Flandes, ~1500

Queen of Castile and León
Reign26 November 1504 – 12 April 1555 (50 years, 137 days)
PredecessorsIsabella I & Ferdinand V
SuccessorCharles I
Co-sovereignPhilip I
Charles I

Queen of Aragon
Reign23 January 1516 – 12 April 1555 (39 years, 79 days)
PredecessorFerdinand II
SuccessorCharles I
Co-sovereignCharles I
SpousePhilip I of Castile
Eleanor, Queen of Portugal and France
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Isabella, Queen of Denmark
Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
Mary, Queen of Bohemia
Catherine, Queen of Portugal
HouseHouse of Trastámara
FatherFerdinand II of Aragon
MotherIsabella I of Castile
Born6 November 1479
Died12 April 1555 (aged 75)
BurialCapilla RealGranadaSpain

Doña Juana, or Joanna, Queen of Castile

A myth created by her sick husband and perpetuated by her father, who was trying to issue a replacement-heir by his second wife, Germaine, that Doña Juana was "mad," kept her from long-term power. "Juana la Loca" was very well-educated. The princess, countess and queen was an excellent student of court etiquette, dance, music, and equestration. Doña Juana--Joanna--was fluent in French, Latin and all of the Iberian Romance languages: Castilian, Leonese, Galician-Portuguese and Catalan.

©M-J de Mesterton

Uniting the Crowns of Castile and Aragon
The marriage of Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I of Castile, in 1469 at the Palacio de los Vivero in Valladolid, began a familial union of the two kingdoms. They became known as the Catholic Monarchs (los Reyes Católicos). Isabella succeeded her brother as Queen of Castile and Ferdinand became jure uxoris King of Castile in 1474. When Ferdinand succeeded his father as King of Aragon in 1479, the Crown of Castile and the various territories of the Crown of Aragon were united in a personal union creating for the first time since the 8th century a single political unit referred to as España (Spain). 'Los Reyes Católicos' started policies to diminish the power of the bourgeoisie and nobility in Castile, and greatly reduced the powers of the Cortes (General Courts) to the point where they sanctioned the monarchy's acts, and brought the nobility to their side.

The 16th Century

On Isabella's death in 1504 her daughter, Joanna I, became Queen (in name) with her husband Philip I as King (in authority). After Philip I's death in 1506, Joanna's father Ferdinand II was regent, due to her perceived mental illness, as her son Charles I was only six years old. On Ferdinand II's death in 1516, Charles I was proclaimed as king of Castile and of Aragon (in authority) jointly with his mother Joanna I as the Queen of Aragon (in name).[3] He became known as Charles V. As the first royal to reign over both Castile and Aragon he may be considered as the first operational King of Spain.


As with all medieval kingdoms, supreme power--the Divine Right of Kings-- was understood to reside in the monarch "by the grace of God," as the legal formula explained. Nevertheless, rural and urban communities began to form assemblies to issue regulations to deal with everyday problems. Over time, these assemblies evolved into municipal councils, known as variously as ayuntamientos or cabildos, in which some of the inhabitants, the property-owning heads of households (vecinos), represented the rest. By the fourteenth century these councils had gained more powers, such as the right to elect municipal magistrates and officers (alcaldes, speakers, clerks, etc.) and representatives to the parliaments (Cortes).
Due to the increasing power of the municipal councils and the need for communication between these and the King, cortes were established in the Kingdom of León in 1188, and Castile in 1250. In the earliest Leonese and Castilian Cortes, the inhabitants of the cities,  commonly called laboratores  (workers),  formed a small group of  representatives who had no legislative powers, but served as a link between the king and the general population, a social mechanism instituted by the kingdoms of Castile and León. Eventually, representatives of the cities, or las ciudades, were granted the right to vote in the Cortes, often in alliance with the monarchs against the grandees or great noble lords.

The Kingdom of Castile Canting Arms

During the reign of Alfonso VIII, the kingdom began to use as its emblem, both in blazons and banners, the canting arms of the Kingdom of Castile: gules, a three-towered golden castle, masoned sable and ajouré azure.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Sugar-Free Treats for a Diabetic Santa

Elegant Wine Stopper

This practical and elegant wine-stopper by OXO is a wonderful gift. Two of them would make an even better present.


Cadfael, an Elegant Survival Film Series Recommendation

Sven-Bertil Taube Sings

My cousin, Sven Bertil Taube sings seafaring songs written
by his illustrious father, Evert Taube, National Poet and Composer of Sweden.
The handsome Swedish movie star Sven-Bertil Taube played an elegant role in the recent film, Män som Hatar Kvinnor (Men Who Hate Women). known in English subtitles as "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

Elegant Champagne Transportation

Bringing cold champagne to a holiday party is easy.
And what hostess wouldn't welcome a few more ice-cubes?
The liner of this paper gift-bag is made of plastic, and when the champagne is extracted from it,
the bag of ice may be tied and popped into a freezer, or emptied into an ice-bucket.
Thanks to my dear friend Anna, who once brought champagne to us in this ingenious way.
©M-J de Mesterton

Monday, 20 December 2010

Party Snack Recommendations from the Independent

"The Ten Best Party Snacks"
Chosen by Samuel Muston

Grandpa's Witch-Hazel Soap

Refreshing Witch-Hazel Soap from Grandpa's is an extremely mild soap that you can use daily. Ever since Native Americans introduced early settlers to the medicinal value of Witch-Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), it has been a staple in medicine cabinets. The astringent property of witch hazel makes this vegetable-based soap a refreshing and purifying product for skin care.
Ingredients: Coconut oil, palm oil, purified water, vegetable glycerin, witch hazel, essence of Hawaiian white ginger.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Fray Juan Bautista Maino: Adoration of the Magi

Reprinted from 11 DECEMBER, 2007

M-J de Mesterton

Fray Juan Bautista Maino: Adoration of the Magi

This is a page from my old childhood book. Click on photo to enlarge image.

Fray Juan Bautista Maino was born in Toledo, Spain in 1569, and died in 1649.
He was a Dominican brother, was befriended by the Court Painter Diego Velásquez, and was a tutor to the Infant Philip, who became Philip IV of Spain.

This painting was originally part of an altar-piece, and is now hanging in El Museo del Prado, Madrid.

©M-J de Mesterton 2007

Elegant, Easy Exercise

Bounce your way to better health with this ideal mini-trampoline. As long as your feet are in fair condition and you're able to stand, this mini-trampoline is easy to use, and its cardio-vascular benefits are similar to those acquired by jumping rope. And "rebounding" on a trampoline is easier than jumping rope, because there is nothing on which to trip. It seems like all the rage right now, but those in the know were using mini-trampolines in the 1990s. The svelte and intelligent character Charlotte Cavendish in the series Lovejoy, for example, used to bounce fifty times on her mini-trampoline in the morning, and another fifty in the evening. 
©M-J de Mesterton 2010
  • Build cardiovascular fitness, tone your legs, abs, buttocks, and back
  • Low-impact aerobic workout at home
  • Compact Size of Mini-Trampoline Lets You Store It with Ease
The Health-Benefits of Rebounding

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Elegant Vegetable Soup with Miso

I used the poaching-liquid from a batch of chicken-breasts, a tablespoon of miso, home-grown beets, parsley, poblano peppers, carrots, celery and a packet of shirataki noodles made from soy to make this health-promoting soup. Following the example of French chefs through the ages, I did not let the liquid from poaching chicken go to waste.
©M-J de Mesterton

The elegant vegetable soup is ready to serve.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Best Serious Down Parka for Ladies

Superior parkas for winter survival from Eddie Bauer: Weatheredge Superior Parkas, since 1941, providing complete protection from cold, water and wind.

"Innovation has been a hallmark of Eddie Bauer outerwear for decades. Often the result of collaboration with specialized experts. Our original Superior Parka grew from working with oilfield crews on Alaska’s North Slope."

Elegant Luncheon Dishes

M-J's Elegant Green-Pea Soup

Posted by Picasa
See Elegant Survival for M-J's Original Recipe
Potage aux Petits Pois Printanière

Classic Example of the Pinstripe Suit, on Sale for a Song

The traditional pinstripe suit is very popular right now. Our friend Peter in Herefordshire is offering a new one that is double-breasted,  in size 44 long.

Elegant, Nutritious Radishes

A most health-promoting vegetable, the refreshing, piquant radish is eaten in France (often at breakfast) with soft butter as a dip. The nutritious radish is a well-known liver-tonic.
©M-J de Mesterton

Elegant Home-Made Hamburgers

With home-made buns and a simple, fresh dressing. hamburgers can be an elegant part of your austerity regimen.
M-J's recipe for home-made hamburger buns may be found on the Bread page at the Elegant Cook.

Elegant Home-Made Hamburgers

With home-made buns and a simple, fresh dressing. hamburgers can be an elegant gourmet part of your austerity regimen.
M-J's recipe for home-made hamburger buns may be found on the Bread page at the Elegant Cook.