We’re Moving!

We have been remiss in our correspondence as of late but with good reason!

Darlings, Miss Havisham’s Tea is dipping our toe into new waters.

Firstly, we are moving our blog to www.MissHavishamsCuriosities.com.

Because we’re really more of a lifestyle movement after all, aren’t we dearies? Why limit ourselves to tea and gossip?

All of our content, social media, and discussion forums will now be in one lovely little hub.

Secondly, and this is a big one, we will be adding an online store in the near future.

So many of those trinkets we’ve showcased will eventually be available to you online. How else can a lady support her weekend flea market addiction?

And so it is out with the old and in with the new including our fancy new logo courtesy of Mr. Havisham (Thank you, Tim).

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So please visit us at our new home, subscribe to our newsletter, and look out for more exciting announcements soon.

xoxo

Miss Havisham’s Curiosities

We’re getting curiouser and curiouser…

Miss Havisham’s April Appointments

Oh hi, April! Ever striving to approach the majesty of Martha Stewart herself, I humbly submit my own schedule for your eagle eyes. Here are the LA events I will be attending in the next few weeks. Maybe I’ll see you there, dearies. No foolin’.

Friday, April 1

April Fool’s Day! Avoid the internet, it is full of lies today. Fish don’t typically wear hats, for example.

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Friday, April 1

The Great Horror Movie Night: Watch Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, The Shining, under the stars in the Griffith Park old zoo. Bring your blankets, bring your snacks, bring a flashlight. We’ll all be there, will you?

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Friday, April 1

First Fridays at the Natural History Museum? Movies and science? Yes.

Give me any excuse to spend time there, I will take it.

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Friday, April 1

Don’t miss this book signing and a chance to meet the author of Deceptive Desserts: A Girls Guide to Baking Bad, Christine McConnell, at Barnes and Noble at The Grove.

I love her instagram. I love her vision. Apparently she is baking cookies for the event.

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Saturday, April 2

Missed her at The Grove? You get another chance. You can drive on down to Riverside and meet Christine McConnell and buy her book, Deceptive Desserts: A Girls Guide to Baking Bad.

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Saturday, April 2-3

Theodore Payne’s annual native garden tour.

This is a fantastic event. Tour gardens all over LA and see how drought tolerant, native gardens can rival even the most manicured lawns. I’ve gone every year since I moved to LA. One day showcases the coastal and mid-city gardens and the other day showcases the inland and valley gardens so whatever your micro climate, you’re set.

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Saturday, April 2

Yet another great event by Atlas Obscura. Take a tour of a miniature and prop shop.

“LA-based artist Calder Greenwood is a prop-maker, set builder, model maker, director, writer, and production designer who creates larger than life installations and truly magical spaces, all from a single material—cardboard.”  Tour his studio in downtown LA.

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Saturday, April 2-April 3

A Current Affair Vintage Pop Up.

This beckons to me and will surely do damage to my bank account.

“A Current Affair is a major source of inspiration for designers with teams from Opening Ceremony, Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani, Band of Outsiders, Trina Turk, Ralph Lauren, Free People, and Mara Hoffman all regularly shopping the event. Prices range from $30-$3000, reflecting the vast array of goods on display- from heritage denim to estate jewelry.”

All the gowns and glitter you need from times gone by. However will I show restraint?

Friday, April 1-April 3

For those of you who want to dance dance dance, check out The Roaring Twenties Street Jam.

Dance classes and events all over the city all weekend ranging from speakeasies to carousal rides with music accompaniment.  I’m going to try to squeeze in an event.

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Thursday, April 7th

Pop-Up Magazine on tour.

“PopUp Magazine returns to The Theatre for an evening of storytelling, documentary film, radio, photography and performance. Some of our favorite writers and storytellers will perform never-before-seen work on stage, accompanied by visuals, recorded audio and live music. Nothing filmed, nothing recorded.”

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Saturday, April 9-10

Wanna relive your troubled teens? Like to cry? Then head to this.

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Sunday, April 10

The one, the only…Rose Bowl Flea.

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Tuesday, April 12-14

Dita Von Teese Burlesque: Strip, Strip, Hooray! Variety Show.

Fashion and burlesque icon and poster girl for an alabaster complexion, Dita Von Teese performs.

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Friday, April 15th

Odd Nights at the Autry.

Flea markets abound! Crafts, food vendors, live music. And who doesn’t love a cowboy museum? Select galleries will be open as well.

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Saturday, April 16th

Obscura Day.

If you do one thing this month, make it an event through Atlas Obscura. Atlas Obscura hosts events across the globe today.

More than 150 events in 35 states and 25 countries. All in one day. 

There’s something for everyone. I’m really looking forward to a visit to LA’s ethical taxidermist Allis Markham of Prey Taxidermy.

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I’m also going to the LA closing party and so should you. Check it out here. It’s taking place at Valley Relics.

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Sunday, April 17

Long Beach Antique Market.

By now you all know this is my favorite flea in the city. You can read about some of my favorite finds here. I actually just bought a sun hat and a collapsible wagon. It’s on.

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Thursday, April 21

25 to 5’s Anniversary Party

“A sophisticated cocktail lounge with a Mediterranean-style menu that caters to L.A.’s most discerning clientele, Riviera 31’s stunning and thought-provoking decor takes visitors on a visual journey through the evocative history of the French Riviera with photography by the legendary Edward Quinn. A unique mixology program includes masterfully crafted cocktails prepared table-side and the menu takes visitors on an epicurean journey through French coastal cuisine.”

All benefits are a donation to City of Hope.

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Friday, April 29-30

Bob’s Burgers Live. I’m going to let that just sit there for a minute.

I love this show so yes, I want to see what the hell a live version of it is.

Pretty much anything Loren Bouchard creates is pure gold so sign me up.

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Saturday, April 30th-May 1

Tired of flea markets yet? Me either. Head up to Paso Robles for the Three Speckled Hens Antique fair. Tickets are on sale now. Make a weekend of it.

Have a lovely April and remember, make time for a calming cup of tea. xoxo

 

Bootleggers and Poison Rings

When I was a kid we lived for a short time in the house my great-grandparents bought when they immigrated from Lebanon. It was a dark and foreboding structure at the end of dead end street with woods on two sides of it. The street actually doesn’t even exist anymore. The house looked a little bit like this one though not as beaten up.

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That house was full of mysteries. Trunks in the attic were full of tintype photos and old glass perfume bottles. There were giant wooden wardrobes to hide in and a basement so terrifying I used to run by the door to it as quickly as I could for fear something unearthly would reach out and grab me. In truth, it was just a creepy turn of the century cellar filled with old tools. That house imprinted on me. It has influenced most of my design choices as an adult. Thanks, great-grandparents.

During Prohibition my great-grandparents supplemented their income by being bootleggers, though neither of them drank. Apparently the neighbors did the same and soon enough they became competitors. I’m told the competition escalated to a full on Lebanese Hatfields-McCoys rivalry.

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You can read all about it in my memoir once it’s finally finished, but for now dearies that’s all you get. I only bring this up to explain the existence of a secret door in the floor of the house’s dining room. Under the rug there was a small door with a metal ring for a handle. The door led to a series of tunnels out into the backyard where the original copper still was stored along with 60 year old bottles of hooch. So that’s where all the magic moonshine happened.  From the day I learned of its existence I was hooked on secret hiding places, convinced it was my sole responsibility to safeguard our family jewels (I was 4 and there were no jewels).

Most of my childhood you could find me hiding inside a wardrobe or closet with a flashlight and a book or “spying.” Other days I was in the backyard with the dog digging holes to hide our valuables from potential jewel thieves (always up against those pesky jewel thieves). I left crayon maps around the house with secret codes on them, left trails of clues, and I watched way too much Fantasy Island. I also read too many Nancy Drew mysteries after I learned to read, of course.

(Note: That last cover may not be a legit Nancy Drew book title but it made me laugh)

My love of secret lairs, hidden doors, and decoder rings grew strong during the years we lived in the creepy ancestral home and hasn’t really died out yet. Just recently, I took my car in to be serviced and the mechanic asked if I knew about the secret compartment in my Mini Cooper. I did not. I’m not ashamed to say I cried a little. It now holds bandaids. I like secrets. Here are a few of my favorite hiding places.

An antique wardrobe as a portal to a workshop from House Beautiful. Apparently this is the home of designer couple who couldn’t agree on how to deal with the husband’s workshop. Brilliant.

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And more.

I’d prefer it if it were a secret laboratory behind these bookshelves instead of a conference room but alas.

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More secret doors in antique wardrobes hiding private rooms.I think Tim needs a secret evil magician’s lair.

I would have loved this wardrobe/secret play room as a kid, very Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, another childhood obsession I might add. Found on  Odee.com.

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Secret staircases? V.C. Andrews would be so proud.

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The Hidden Passageway Company will actually build you a secret room or a safe behind a painting. I think their bookcases are the best option. I imagine, with a little design nudge in the right direction, they could create some really unique pieces.

Tangent! Download this video on how to make a portrait that appears to follow you with its eyes then line your hallway with them or hang one in your guest room.

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Before there were safety deposit boxes, there was trick furniture. Valuables were stashed away in secret drawers. The most famous of which can be viewed in all its mechanical clockwork splendor here. You have to see it to believe it.

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The most brilliant pieces of secret compartment furniture ever made were created by the Roentgens, father and son, who engineered pieces for Europe’s royal families. They’re who Marie Antoinette went to when she wanted a desk. Several of their pieces were on display at the Met and one sold at Sotheby’s recently for 133,000 pounds.

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After I read this article from Collector’s Weekly on how to find secret compartments in antique furniture, I went home and inspected all my furniture. My lips are sealed, but let’s just say if you have the choice between buying an antique and a new piece of furniture, always go antique. You may find a surprise.

Traveling was especially dangerous in ye olde days so a lady needed to hide her valuables. This vanity case with a secret drawer sure is pretty, if impractical by today’s standards. It recently sold on Ebay which has quite a few antique boxes with secret drawers for sale.

You can always hide your goodies in your expansive library of first editions. Easy enough to carve out the pages or purchase one pre-made like this ca. 1889 copy of Montaigne on etsy.

 

Poison Rings: I loooooove these. Want to poison your enemy but remain stylish? Are you worried you might need to take state secrets to your premature grave? I’ll never talk! Poison rings became popular in Europe around the 16th century when just about everyone poisoned everyone. It was all the rage.

A triple compartment enamel poison ring ca. 1840 found on Antiquejewel.com.

This ring found on Collectors Weekly is actually a series of interlocking rings or a Gimmel ring that hides a secret message, albeit a sweet one.

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Sometimes the message isn’t so sweet as in this ring which bears occult symbols and has a poison chamber. No one sends a nice message with a ram’s head.

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Another interlocking Gimmel ring, this one with a message that life is short. Gather ye daisies, friends.

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More poison, more!

And this one belonged to Queen Elizabeth I. A sassy gal she was.

Jewelry with secret compartments was the precursor to mourning jewelry where pieces of hair were kept in lockets, pins, rings etc. Read all about it in my former post on mourning, “Death Becomes Her.”

And here’s more gold from Collector’s Weekly. These sure are clever, consider them day-to-evening-wear earrings. The covers come off to reveal the diamonds inside. Also handy for fooling jewel thieves!

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This intricately carved ball from the 16th century holds layers of biblical scenes and was used for prayer.

Last, but certainly not least, the nineteenth century invented pocket watches, clocks, compacts and, even cane handles with secret compartments to hide pornographic paintings. Early erotica at its most clever. Check out this recent auction for examples that will make you blush. Definitely not for the shy or prim. Here’s a fairly tame one.

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May all your jewels be safe and all your secrets well kept. xoxo

 

Go Ask Alice

Alice in Wonderland has captivated readers for decades. Written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, it was published in 1865. Three years earlier, Carroll rowed a boat up the Isis section of the Thames river with three young girls and Reverend Robinson Duckworth inside. The three young ladies were the sisters Liddell,  daughters of Henry Liddell (the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and Dean of Christ Church): Lorina Charlotte Liddell (aged 13); Alice Pleasance Liddell (aged 10); Edith Mary Liddell (aged 8).

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Alice Liddell, far right.

While on the river it’s said Carroll entertained the girls with a story that was so beloved by Alice that she asked for it to be written down for her and thus Alice in Wonderland came into existence. Carroll approached the artist John Tenniel to illustrate the manuscript.

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In 1998 Lewis Carroll’s own copy of Alice, one of only six surviving copies of the 1865 first edition, sold at an auction for US$1.54 million to an anonymous American buyer, becoming the most expensive children’s book (or 19th-century work of literature) ever sold, up to that time. Alice Liddell’s copy of the manuscript sold in 2009 for $115,000.

The relationship between Alice and Carroll is a murky one. She posed for Carroll often and those photos have been cited as proof that the nature of their friendship was less than appropriate.

This past June The Morgan Library in New York held an exhibit celebrating the 150th anniversary of the book’s publication. The exhibit included original drawings by Carroll and Tenniel as well as a number of photos. I was surprised that there was no mention of the question of Carroll’s relationship with Alice. You can view a number of the illustrations online at The Morgan Library’s site. There is an interesting article on the subject of their relationship here.

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Character development sketches between Carroll and Tenniel

We may never know the truth about Carroll’s proclivities as Richard Cavendish writes here:

“The friendship between the Liddells and Dodgson (Carroll) had broken down in 1863, for reasons that are not clear – the relevant page in his diary was cut out by one of his descendants – but it may be that Mrs Liddell was uneasy about him and Alice. Polite relations were resumed after a few months, but the earlier warmth did not return. ”

Alice grew into an adult and married a cricket player at the age of 28. They had three sons. She became quite the society hostess. After her husband’s death in 1926 she found the upkeep of their household to be draining. Facing financial difficulties, she sold her copy of the manuscript for £15,400. She died in 1934 and is quoted as saying, “I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland.”

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Alice as an adult.

Alice in Wonderland has been the subject of songs, art, and numerous films, one of my favorites is the stop motion film by Jan Svankmejer.  You can watch the trailer online.

There are no shortage of Alice themed events. Don’t forget to attend The Victorian Tea and Dance Society’s Alice in Wonderland themed social Sunday, March 6.

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Should you find yourself in London, you must go to The Madhatter’s High Tea at the beautiful Sanderson Hotel. I left with diabetes but I also left happy.

Want to throw your own tea party? I have several pieces of the Alice in Wonderland collection from Fishs Eddy in New York. I love them. Not sure if they still have the dinnerware but they also carry the prettiest cake stands.

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Cakestands for days.

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And who’s ready for a garden party? Alice always is.

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Need to make a pillow? A skirt? Find all the fabric you need on Etsy:

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And let’s not forget shoes. Wow.

From Elusive Rabbit:

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Or these from Irregular Choice:

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Care for a scarf?

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An entire tea set? Egg cup? Gift wrap? Check out The Alice Boutique.

I find The Hudson Hotel in New York to have a very Alice in Wonderland feel. Much of the furniture in the library bar is oversized and the lobby is really something. It’s a fun place to take a client for a drink.

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Or this acrylic chandelier from Vinci Living. Plenty more Alice interior design ideas on Lace and Ruffles.

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And I leave you with a great Queen of Hearts from Popsugar:

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Curiouser and curiouser!

Gown Hall of Fame

Let’s be honest, the only thing anyone is going to be searching the internet for right now are pictures of the best and worst Oscar gowns. I personally prefer the Met gala since those dresses tend to be more outlandish. For that matter, I also can’t get enough of the Miss Universe national costumes. Here are some of my favorite dresses from various award shows over the years.

I’ll keep this simple because I want to get back to the show, but let’s just say I would happily accept the wardrobes of Cate Blanchett, Dita Von Teese and, surprisingly, Anne Hathaway. So without further ado…

The power of red.

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Pale and lovely in pink…

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Orange is a hard color to pull off but these are beautiful.

Jennifer Hudson 2011 Sexy V Neck Orange Red Oscar Taffeta Red Carpet Evening Formal Gown

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Yellow is equally challenging and not a color you often see on the red carpet which is too bad.

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Green is also not terribly common.

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Blue is my favorite color.

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Purple, the color of royalty…

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Silver and white definitely pulls focus.

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Brown is not a color you associate with sexy and yet…

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And, of course, black.

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Nina Dobrev Black Evening Prom Dress 2012 Elton John Oscar Party-500x500

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xoxo

 

 

Put a Bird on It

My wedding dress had a train of ethically acquired peacock feathers on it. I’m going to let that sentence sit there for a minute for you to absorb…

Shall we continue? If I read that sentence I’d hate the person who wrote it but alas, it’s the truth. Were they really ethically acquired? Well, at least the woman I bought them from swore they were. She also charged me what I like to call the “not plucked premium.”

The feather has a long and storied past in the fashion world dating back in the Middle Ages and has primarily been a sign of social status. From Venetian masks to the boas of Cancan dancers, the feather has tickled us for centuries. Read all about it here.

There was a time when wearable taxidermy was all the rage, friends.

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Actress Christie MacDonald, circa 1902.

 

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Clara Bow

 

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Louise Brooks
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Jean Harlow

It fell out of fashion largely because of what might be the first recorded animal rights campaign.

Today there are plenty of folks making hats from actual roadkill they come across like this beauty by James Faulkner:

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Or perhaps this one by Margot Magpie for that special gent in your life.

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Photo by Dafydd Owen

Or this peaceful white winged bride by Bat Cakes Couture. You can read her artist statement on her Etsy store.

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Or the evil twin. The model looks a little like Tippi Hedren.

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The undisputed king of feather fashion, however,  is Alexander McQueen. When I saw his exhibit in New York, I actually got teary. Just magnificent. It was as if he reached into the back of my brain and pulled out everything I always dreamed of.

Don’t go hungry, model girl. You can cook and eat the eggs in your hat.

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This bird is soaring on the sky of my torso, bucko.

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Look to the future…far into the future.

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This is exactly how I get dressed in the morning, truly.

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This.is.beautiful. I can’t even think of a sarcastic thing to say.

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Head explodes in pure joy. I need a minute.
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But let us not neglect your feet. You will be feathered from head to toe by the end of this piece.

These are fabulous. These are Dior.

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Pretty pretty by Pedro Garcia.

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Clips you can put on any pair of shoes by Kathy Johnson. Yes please.

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Ok, these are scary. Yet magnificent. No, still scary.

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I present you with a foundation garment.

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And those zany Victorians and their morbid jewelry. Hummingbirds. I saw a necklace just like this in the hunting museum in Cairo. I stood there feeling guilty but completely mesmerized.

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And now, I take my leave of you. Go. Dream of birds.  xoxo

Freaky Fridays

Welcome to Freaky Fridays where I post links to the odd and the fantastic. Thank you to my friends, especially Sally and Andrea, who provided me with pure gold this week. Have a weird news story? Send it to dearmisshavisham@gmail.com

Breaking News (hardly): George Washington’s teeth weren’t made of wood says Smithsonian.

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Curbed wants you to party like the Bauhaus did and so does Miss Havisham.

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If you ever find yourself in Budapest, you simply must go to Memento Park which is essentially where all communist statues go to retire. After the fall of communism most of statues and monuments pertaining to that period of history were immediately removed from around Budapest. Here they now live for your viewing pleasure.

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The controversial practice of sin eating existed from Medieval times up through the early 20th century. Believe your sins can be consumed by another person leaving your soul free to enter the kingdom of heaven? The church sure didn’t think so.  Read all about it here.

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I am obsessed with this story. Read about the Russian family who lived alone in the Siberian wilderness for over 40 years then watch the video by Vice of the last surviving member of the family. They had no idea WWII ever happened.

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Love taxidermy, hate the idea of dead animals? These beautiful pieces by artist Kelly Jelinek may even be better than the real thing.

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And another:

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I’m not going to lie, I hate this furry nail trend as reported by Bored Panda. No person who actually needs to USE THEIR HANDS could have these. It has to be a joke or some runway fashion gimmick, right? Very teen wolf, baby.

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Only slightly less practical are the Guinness Book famous nails of Lee Redmond who owned the longest natural lady nails in the world. Sadly, Ms Redmond lost her nails in a car accident. She tells of her tragic loss here.

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Want to stay young forever? Try the vampire line of cosmetic procedures where blood is injected into your various body parts for a youthful undead glow. I’ve been bathing in the blood of doves for centuries, dearies. How do you think Elvira stays so young?

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And I leave you with some real life haunted houses for sale.

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May your weekend be fantastically fanatical.  xoxo