Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Whimsical Nonostante Marras Shop!

If I ever go to Milan one of my first stop will be at the so whimsical Nonostante Marras Shop! I can't help but see myself renting this space for a Victorian party! I really don't understand why Barnes and Noble took all their comfy seats away? How much I miss seating on a comfy chair at that bookstore. But Italian's have it right! This fascinating and inviting concept shop was curated by fashion designer Antonio Marras.

This unique boutique has elements of this designer's fashion concept spread throughout his shop. If you ever seen Antonio's fashion show you will notice that the designer loves bold lines and colors. But on the other hand his design has also that Alice in Wonderland whimsical fantasy look to it.

Look Barnes and Noble comfy chairs! Very inviting. Me want to stay longer. The longer me stay the more books or magazines me want to take home.

Peeled wall paint. A great alternative to fresco walls!

Exposed ceiling beams adds that loft industrial feel. Again soft comfy chairs.

Rich red color against the white wall makes a fascinating contrast. Love the different mirrors!

I wish I could check the clothes rack! I could spot a few things that I would love to wear.

Gold and white is always so elegant!

Love the element of surprise.

Cute glass display. Great vintage pieces throughout the store!

The flowers are awesome! Great idea for a Spring wedding!

I'm totally inspired by this place!

Have I told you that Antonio's clothes designs are on my top list. When I see his fashion shows I get inspiration for my next shopping trip.

For more information on his boutique you may visit:

You can also visit Antonio's website to see his latest fashion shows and designs:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Victoria Lee Jones Saga Continues

Greetings to all of my friends, and future friends to be! Thanks for stopping by Victoria Lee Jones Café Society! I know It's been a while since I had an episode written for my Victoria Lee Jones Café Society series. The reason that I had stop was because I had some personal doubts about continuing writing the series. And unfortunately because of that I decided to stop writing altogether. Biggest mistake ever!

I am not a professional writer by any means, and truthfully for me to become one it would take me a lot of schooling, time, money, and a lot of energy. Even if I had all of that, I wouldn't even embark on such a quest. Because writing is just one of the many hobbies and things that I love doing.  I have more important goals and personal projects that are currently on my priority list.

So a writer perhaps may not be what I considered myself to be. So to be fair I called myself a storyteller. That way I won't end up offending scores of English literature fans. "What kind of poopy work is this?" I also wouldn't want to step on some writers toes and get scolded by them. "You call yourself an author? Are you kidding me?"

So you understand where I am coming from. But I can't help it, I just love writing.

For me writing is an es·cap·ism / əˈskāpˌizəm (had to add the pronunciation. Love the upside down e). Writing have given me a chance to go to places that I could only dream of. Imagining a story and seeing it developing is so rewarding!

So I thought that I would go ahead and give it a try. So I did.

I got out my Mickey Mouse notebook and started writing my first Victoria Lee Jones story draft. After writing several drafts I was ready to post it on my blog. So I thought!

Okey so my grammar stinks. And to make things worst I don't have an extensive vocabulary. Again I enjoy writing but, and I have to painfully admit my English was never really good.

Spanish happens to be my real mother tongue. It wasn't until the age of three that I started learning English. And for any bilingual people out there. I don't know if you had this experience or not. But I found out after giving it much thought that I never really learned well either languages.

My brain could only hold just enough English and Spanish to get by. Composing a well written sentence in both languages was out of the question. And up to this day I still find it a challenge to write something that makes sense.

But it's never too late to learn. And like with everything else in life. Practice makes perfect. So I put my best foot forward.

Fast forward. A year ago. After painstakingly correcting my awful grammar on all of my nine Victoria Lee Jones episodes, my editor advised me that I had to read more. He gave me a list of books to read. Then he said "It will help you to expound your English vocabulary and improve your writing." Oh okey, I get your drift. I stink. Then came the constructive criticism. "Your story was good and interesting. Though I was a bit confused. Like for instance I didn't get episode ten. I just felt that it didn't make sense with the rest of the story."

"What didn't you understand? Do you want me to explain it to you?"

"Just considered what I said. And just work from there."

Reality hits hard! I had to face the fact that my writing STINKS! And that I had a long, long way to go before it could be considered decent enough for a 6th grader to understand.

After I have put so much effort and thought on my story. I felt that I just didn't have it in me to become a decent storyteller. Although my editor's intentions were noble. He truly wanted to help me improve my grammar. I still felt bad. I felt like a deflated balloon, with no air left, so I went down, down to the ground.

At that time I was going through a very low time in my life. I had been dealing with severe health problems which left me physically inactive. Writing kept me going. It kept my mind active and happy. I considered it my intellectual therapy.

But like a sad balloon, I was punctured by the harsh reality. And I went crashing down to the ground. And I stayed on the ground, with no more desire to continue flying.

So I decided to step away from it all.

I took on other hobbies and interest.

Fast forward to now.

I missed it! I missed writing. Just putting my thoughts into words is one of the best gifts that brings me inner contentment and joy! I shouldn't have allowed my doubts and insecurities to interfere with what was wholesome and rewarding for me.

Has my English improved while I was away? Nope. As a matter of fact, eight months of no writing except for some text messaging and sending emails, has set me back, way back.

But here I am a stinky storyteller ready to continue to write again.

And I am totally excited to writing my Victoria Lee Jones series for you all.

I am back again flying in my air balloon. Can't wait to experience the joy of flying with you again!

Sincerely Yours,

Carmen Johnson

Monday, February 23, 2015

Historical News: Mrs. Agatha Christie Found Alive / Behind Her Mysterious Disappearance

"Mrs. Agatha Christie Found Alive." That was the headline of the front page news of the London's Daily Sketch newspaper, dated December 15, 1926. Agatha Christie's mysterious disappearance of 11 days baffled police, doctors, family, friends and even fans for decades. Analyzing the events before Mrs. Christie disappearance could gives us some clues as to what may have happened to one of the world's best selling novelist of all times. Could the 80 years old mystery finally been resolved?

The following are the circumstances that could have lead to the author's mysterious disappearance.

Agatha Christie lost her mother Clara Miller in death on April 1926. Her husband Archie was away on a business trip in Spain. After he arrived he didn't gave to his wife the comfort and support that she needed. He hated "illness, death, and trouble." Her husband left to London leaving Agatha to deal with her mother's death alone. At that period of loneliness Agatha describes certain moments where she felt confused and out of sorts. For instance she would forget her own name when signing a check or she will burst out and cry when her car didn't want to turn on.

Then came the devastating news from Archie. He announced to Agatha that he was in love with another woman named Nancy Neele and that he wanted a divorce.

After a short separation, Agatha in hopes of a trail reconciliation convinced her husband to move back with her. The plan failed badly.

Agatha describes it as a "mistake," that lead to "a period of sorrow, misery and heartbreak."

On December 3, 1926 the Christie's had an heated argument in which the husband left their home in Sunningdale, Berkshire to spend the weekend with his mistress in Godalming, Surrey.

Sometime at 9:45pm that evening Mrs. Christie left her home leaving her daughter sleeping in bed. She also leaves a note to her secretary saying that she was going to go to Yorkshire.

Agatha Christie's abandon car

The next day on December 4, a Morris Cowley car was found abandon in Newsland Corner near a lake. The police found inside the car an expired license driver that belonged to Agatha Christie. There was no sign of the missing 36 year old writer. Many feared the worst.

There was a public outcry following the news of Mrs Christie's disappearance. Soon after the news one of England's largest manhunt was underway. It was believed that thousands helped in the search. Included in the search were police, volunteers, some who even brought their blood hounds. Also planes helped combed the rural area in search for the author.

Then on December 14, 1926 a couple of musician recognized the author who had been staying at a very prestigious and luxurious spa hotel, the Swan Hydropathic Hotel in Harrogate, England. Mrs. Christie didn't used her name when she registered at the hotel. Oddly enough she registered as Mrs. Teresa Neele. Neele being her husband's mistress last name.

So what could have happened to this well-eloquent accomplished author? What could have caused her strange disappearance?

* Was it a plight from a desperate wife to have her husband back?
* Did she wanted to teach her husband a lesson?
* Was it a publicity stunt for her latest novel, "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd"?
* Could the author's recent loss and trauma caused her to have amnesia or dissociative fugue?
* Was she suffering from a nervous breakdown?
* Was she depressed to the point of ending her own life?
* Could it be that she was thinking of framing her husband and his mistress for her alleged death?

Like a page torn out from one of her novels Agatha Christie's own life had become itself a riveting mystery novel. Over the years there have been many theories and speculations around the case. Could we finally be able to crack this case? Here are the latest.

In 2000 John Ezard had the opportunity to interview Judith Gardner for The Guardian. Mrs. Gardner who was at that time 84 years of age, happened to be the daughter of Agatha Christie's friend Nan Watts.

As a child Mrs. Gardner learned the truth of what happened to the author when she had disappeared. Mrs. Gardner claimed that her mother had hid Mrs. Christie's at her home in Chelsea. Afterwards she was given money and sent on a train to Harrogate.

"She then just sat there in her hotel room, hiding away." She then added, "But she had signed the guests' register in the name Neele - the surname of her husband's lover. It was carefully orchestrated."

Both Mrs. Gardner and her husband, Graham, said, "She wanted Archie back."

Mrs. Gardner said, "She wanted to give him a shock. If she had had amnesia she would not have signed the register in the other woman's name. She was a highly intelligent woman."

"My mother helped her because she was distraught. I think she went to my mother because she had been through a divorce. [Mrs Christie] never did it for the publicity. That was the last thing she would have thought of. She was very upset and shocked - it all went rather wrong."

Author Jared Cade interviewed numerous witnesses and relatives for his sympathetic biography, Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days, revised 2011. He provided substantial evidence to suggest she planned the event to embarrass her husband, never supposing the resulting escalated melodrama.

However Mrs.Christie's biographer Janet Morgan wasn't convinced about the author plot of trying to get her husband back. She said that Mrs. Christie's was "sick and bewildered," before and after her flight.

Interestingly enough Agatha Christie blamed her disappearance on her mind being in a"dream state."

"For 24 hours I wandered in a dream, and then found myself in Harrogate as a well-contented and perfectly happy woman who believed she had just come from South Africa."

Dr. Andrew Norman author of Agatha Christie The Finished Portrait reiterated what Mrs. Christie had commented.

"That her adoption of a new personality - she took the name Teresa Neele - and failure to recognize herself in newspaper photographs were signs that the novelist had fallen into a psychogenic amnesia after a period of depression."

"I believe she was suicidal." Then he added, "Her state of mind was very low and she writes about it later through the character of Celia in her autobiographical novel, Unfinished Portrait."

For more clues as to what happened to the author I encouraged you to watch the following 2013 film The Mystery of Agatha Christie, with actor David Suchet. Who is better known for his role as Hercule Poirot.

My personal thoughts:

Whatever the truth was, the only thing that I could say was that this was no doubt a very difficult time for Mrs. Christie. And that It was nice to see that she was able to move on and that she eventually did find love again!

Research: The Guardian, Wikipedia, All About Agatha Christie, The Line Up, Marriage About,  Video from Youtube.


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