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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Florence Artist Kat Brumitt on The Artistic Journey & Her New Jewelry Class

Kat Brumitt has been an artist most of her life and recently moved to Florence, Colorado--which has one of the most diverse art scenes in the state.

A longtime resident of the Alma/Fairplay area, Brumitt moved to Florence for the better climate to help her function better after she sustained a serious injury. She was also drawn to the area due to the reasonable real estate prices.

"I purchased an old house. It was built in 1895 and used to be a boarding house. I want to bring it back. Back to its painted lady state," she said.

Bringing beautiful things back to life and making things of beauty has always been a passion for Brumitt. And she has found Florence to be a perfect backdrop for that.

"I was so happy when I discovered The Bell Tower Cultural Center when I was walking by. It's just a few blocks from my house."

The center is located at 201 E. 2nd St. in Florence and offers a big selection of art, music, cultural and fitness classes.

Brumitt not only felt right at home, the moment she arrived in Florence about six months ago. She felt right at home when she walked in The Bell Tower. "You have no idea what the center does for my soul!"

Her jewelry was featured in a recent center, All Things Celtic show, and then Brumitt was invited to teach a class at the center.

Brumitt will be teaching a class in Viking wire weave. Students will make a bracelet using wire and braiding techniques. The class will be held two evenings from 6:30 to 8, on May 6 and 7. There is a $25 class fee and a $15 supplies fee. The supply fee includes all the stones, wire and findings. Brumitt will also supply the other materials, including jewelry pliers, but has asked if students have their own pliers, to bring them to the class.

Registration for the class may be made by calling the Fox Den at 719-784-2303 or dropping by the Fox Den at 123 W. Main St. in Florence.



Pictured above are just a few of Brumitt's Viking weave creations.

While the history of the Viking weave isn't fully known, some believe it was a textile weaving technique originating in Scandinavia and was adopted by the Vikings in the first half of the ninth century. The Vikings were known for using silver wire and thread for decorative applications.

Brumitt explained that the technique of the Viking weave uses certain elements similar to knitting or crocheting, but one does not have to have any experience in those creative pursuits to be successful at making beautiful Viking weave jewelry.

One advantage, according to Brumitt of making Viking weave jewelry, is the the chains don't catch on things the way other chains do. And the chains are extremely sturdy. Students in her class will be able to make a custom bracelet and Brumitt said that ankle bracelets in the Viking weave are gaining popularity. She added, that while the class will focus on the basics, there are advanced techniques of weaving around stones.

Brumitt always tries to purchase all of her supplies locally. She has been a longtime family friend of Marcene Martin and her family. Martin owns the Copper Canon Bead and Art Gallery, located at 108 S. Pikes Peak Ave. Martin and her family also resided in the Fairplay area years ago.

The Florence artist said she only uses natural stones--no plastic or glass--in her creations.


Pictured above, Brumitt displays a necklace and bracelet she created.

Brumitt has learned the Viking weave technique in recent years, but she has been creating jewelry most of her life. "It started when my sister and I were very young," she said. Her and her sister began making jewelry and turned it into a family tradition, even as youngsters,of making special pieces for each other's birthdays.

The bond of creating jewelry still exists today. Brumitt said that when her sister was wondering where to find some jewelry to match an outfit she was wearing to a wedding, Brumitt suggested her sister make her own to match. And her sister did.

"I enjoy making one-of-a-kind pieces," the artist said, "I like people to look at my stuff and know other people won't have it."

Brumitt's one-of-a-kind pieces are available at The Wishing Well, which features fine jewelry and collectibles. The store is located at 115 E. Main St. in Florence.

Even though Brumitt has been creating jewelry since childhood, it has only been the last year or two that she has sold her creations. She recently sold her jewelry the Florence's Steampunk Festival. Brumitt not only enjoyed sharing her jewelry, she said she had a wonderful time talking to people. "This is such a friendly town," she said.

In addition to making jewelry, the Florence artist is also a quilter and fiber artist.

More information on Brumitt's class and other classes and events at The Bell Tower Cultural Center is available by going to: www.florenceartscouncil.com


The blog owner of True Story Club NEVER accepts any type of compensation for writing  or posting  items of local interest. If you feel you have an item of interest, for possible consideration on this blog, please email: FlorenceColorado@yahoo.com




Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Eating Our Way Across Colorado: ITO Japanese Steak House in Florence, Colorado

Yes, our goal here is to eat our way across Colorado and write about it. First on our tour of culinary delights is ITO Japanese Steak House, Sushi And Thai in Florence, Colorado.

OK, ITO's is less than a mile from our house--but it still qualifies as eating our way across Colorado.

ITO's opened in early Dec. of 2014 at 106 W. Main St. From my vantage point (across the street working at various antiques stores) with my binoculars focused on this restaurant or loitering on the streets of Florence because I have nothing better to do, I can honestly say there has hardly been a lull in business since opening day.

My husband and I have a tradition (on birthdays) of attempting to eat out three times on our birthdays. Since we are getting older, the tradition is down to two birthday meals eaten out. Oh, and I wonder why my waistline is just a touch out of control.

Anyway, since it was my husband's birthday we decided to make ITO's the twice-in-one day destination. It was just a few days after opening day, and many restaurants when newly opened have a few glitches to work out. Not so at ITO's. The food and service have been perfect from day one to the present.

After our second trip in one day, most of the staff chuckled and yelled, "See you tomorrow!" They weren't far off. We've been back several times and have never been disappointed.


Full disclosure. Japanese cuisine has never been among my favorites. And after ITO's--Japanese food is one of my favorites.

My husband has always enjoyed Japanese food, as it was part of his childhood. His parents are from the Big Island of Hawaii, where the Japanese culture and cooking is dominant. His mother is a pro at making sushi and other Japanese delicacies.

While I always enjoyed my mother-in-law's cooking (because my husband slipped me a $20 bill and an elbow nudge to the ribs and insisted I act like I adored sushi and other Japanese food his mother cooked) I never did enjoy it in restaurants, until ITO's.

Come on! I had Sicilian food in my childhood and we were the types who giggled if someone made a comment about someone making someone swim with the fishes--and not the types to eat raw fish.

Most of us know, sushi is not all about raw fish. It's about artistry and most of it is delicious.

But we got more hooked (no pun intended) on the bento boxes.


Oh, bento boxes. There's my husband attempting to put some soy sauce on his California roll.

I didn't order the bento box this visit, but I have a half dozen times before--so I snatched a roll and a dumpling (Gyoza) before he could object.

Mmm. Washabi. My husband likes to smear that over everything for a hot kick in the gums--so I had to snatch a few samples away before he did so.

This time around, he ordered the shrimp teriyaki box. Sweet ecstasy. You bet my fork was reaching for one of his shrimp.

On the left of the picture is the vegetable tempura. Years ago, in several of the many Japanese restaurants in California my husband drug, I mean took me to, I had bad experiences with tempura. The batter was thick and spongy. So, I was expecting the same here. Not so. The tempura is light and crunchy and cooked to perfection.

Everything is perfectly seasoned and fresh at ITO's.


The miso soup and salad come with the bento box. Delicious!

You'll notice my husband's shirt is different from the last picture. No, he didn't run to the restroom and make a change. We visit ITO's often and this review is based on many visits.


The tempura shrimp bento boxes are just as good as the teriyaki ones. Even the shrimp and vegetables look perky and artistic.

The fried rice in the bento boxes defies description. It is better than any fried rice I've tried in  any Chinese, Thai or other Japanese restaurants.


On one visit I tried the beef and Soba noodles. Soba is thin buckwheat noodles. The beef was melt-in-the-mouth tender. The noodles were cooked correctly and the sauce and vegetables were excellent.


ITO's also boasts a full-service bar and a huge selection of fresh seafood for the sushi and sashimi.

The menu at this Florence eatery is vast and complex, we have not yet scratched the surface of all the delicious offerings such as their hibachi menu or steak, lobster and other seafood. Hopefully I can get back to ITO's a couple of dozen more times and try all those things before I snap the elastic on my stretch pants.

ITO's has a good selection of ramen and Thai dishes. I tried the Pad Thai, which consisted of noodles stir fried with eggs, bean sprouts, green onions and crushed peanuts. I had the shrimp, but the Pad Thai may also be ordered with beef, chicken, vegetables or tofu.

For the freshness and quality of the food, the prices at ITO's are reasonable. Most lunches fall in the $6.95 to $9.95 range.

Dinners can range up to the high $20-range, but the dinner bento boxes are larger than the lunch offerings and range from $9.95 to $16.95.

ITO's get the True Story Club's highest rating: Four forks up! Or in this case, four chopsticks up!

 The rating system is: One fork up (call the health department). Two forks up (not bad, but my taste buds could be happier). Three forks up (quite delicious). Four forks up (beyond delicious). I wanted to base the rating system on the FORK YOU restaurant review system, but my husband told me I was naughty and this was a family-friendly blog. But recently I read something in a reputable local newspaper where a rubber duck derby was referred to as the CLUSTER DUCK. I immediately asked my husband if that meant what I thought it meant. He said yes. And he dared scoff at my initial FORK YOU system of rating restaurants. The man simply has no vision.

ITO's is open Monday through Thursday from 10:30 to 9 and on Fridays and Saturdays from 10:30 to 9:30. They are closed on Sundays.


The restaurant accepts cash and major credit cards, but no checks.



All restaurant meals that are reviewed are paid for by the blog owner. No restaurant owner or staff is informed that the restaurant will be reviewed or publicized. True Story Club NEVER accepts any type of compensation for writing about a restaurant or any other subject on this blog.

The blog owner is NOT a professional restaurant reviewer or photographer. (Like she needed to tell you that). The Fremont County Foodie is a pen name (among others) for the blog owner, who is a former newspaper reporter and magazine writer. She knows nothing about fine dining or cuisine and her only experience with fine dining was coming in third place when applying for a job as a restaurant reviewer at a major Colorado newspaper and when she slightly ticked off celebrity chef, Lidia Bastianich at her swanky Manhattan eatery, Felidia's. I guess that's what poor Lidia gets for allowing such riff-raff into her restaurant. If you dare, you can read about the Fremont County Foodie's total lack of manners and restaurant review qualifications in this blog post: http://truestoryclub.blogspot.com/2015/04/eating-my-way-across-colorado-fremont.html

Florence, Colorado: Exciting New Jewelry Class With Kat Brumitt At Bell Tower Cultural Center

The Bell Tower Cultural Center, located at 201 E 2nd St. in Florence, always has a lineup of classes for all ages, skill levels and interests. This month the class offerings include a Viking wire weave class with Kat Brumitt.

Class participants will learn how to make a bracelet using a traditional technique used by the Vikings.


Pictured above are just a few samples of Kat's artistry.

Kat's class in Viking wire weave is scheduled over two evenings, May 6 and 7, from 6:30 to 8. There is a $25 class fee and the $15 materials fee includes all the supplies, including wire, findings and stones.

The Bell Tower Cultural Center is a division of the Florence Arts Council.

Those wishing to be a part of this class or any others, should sign up for classes by calling the Fox Den at 719-784-2303 or stopping by the shop at 123 West Main St.


True Story Club will have a feature story on local artist, Kat Brumitt in another blog post.


This blog owner NEVER accepts any compensation of any type for announcing items of local interest or writing stories about local people. To have your event or story up for possible consideration on this blog--please contact us at:FlorenceColorado@yahoo.com. All subject matters are considered. The only requirement is that subject matters be family friendly.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Florence, Colorado: The Beginning Of The Tour

It is one of our pleasures to take you on  mini-tours of sorts of Florence, Colorado--one of the most intriguing and friendly towns in the West. Most people know Florence is the antiques capital of Colorado, but the town is also becoming a force to be reckoned with for its indoor and outdoor art, as well as other cultural opportunities. Florence is also home to many talented musicians, and eventually we hope to link audio and video to this blog, so visitors can listen in.


This informative display at the corner of Pikes Peak Ave. and Main Street is a good place to start a tour and get a brief glimpse into the rich history of Florence's beginnings--"from apple orchards to oil fields."


Next to the display outlining a bit of Florence history is a community bulletin board where locals and visitors alike can view information about upcoming events such as the May 17 car show that draws thousands of people.

Underneath the bulletin board are plenty of booklets listing Florence treasures, including local businesses and restaurants, as well as scenic, cultural and sporting diversions.

This is just one of many starting points in Florence. In future mini-tours, we'll look at other places including the Chamber of Commerce, the Florence Pioneer Museum, and the Bell Tower Cultural Center as resources to make the most of one's trip to Florence.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Eating My Way Across Colorado: Fremont County Foodie

I plan on eating my way across Colorado. Wait, I've already done that. I've actually ate my way across most of the United States and four other countries. I've just never written about it. I was too busy shoving delicacies down my pie hole to write.

True Story Club will soon feature restaurant reviews by the Fremont County Foodie. Reviews won't just be limited to Fremont County, Colorado. Anytime, the Fremont County Foodie can make a break across county lines and eat--there will be a review.

OK, your new reviewer is really The Queen of Questionable Taste. Questionable taste in antiques, collectibles and a spouse. What's the difference of adding food to the list. So, you can be assured the Queen is also totally unqualified to write restaurant reviews.

Actually the Fremont Foodie has a small, very small resume, of fine dining experience. About a decade ago I decided to apply for a position at a major Colorado newspaper as a...Newspaper delivery person? The editor-in-chief? Ha! Not with my majestic grammar skills. I applied for the lofty position of restaurant reviewer. The editor of the arts and entertainment section emailed back and said he was slightly amused by my gallant, but novice attempt. OK, he didn't say that, but I can read and write between the lines. He did say I was is the top three candidates for the position. Then he never emailed back. I think what he forgot to tell me was that only three people applied and I was in dead last.

            The Queen of Questionable Taste & The Fremont County Foodie's Stunt Double

I couldn't find where one even could attend the University of Restaurant Reviewers. So I gave up my dream of getting paid to be a glutton, I mean a gourmand.

Pictured above is my stunt double. You see, it is imperative that I sneak into restaurants anonymously. I suppose when I whip out my huge, decade-old camera that still uses floppy discs--I will be found out. But maybe not. It seems everyone whips it out--and then posts a review on Yelp or some such site.

Yes, you will be yelping when you read my take on what the eating world has to offer.

My only other brush with real fine dining (outside of venturing off the dollar menu at McDonald's) was the time I slightly ticked off celebrity chef, Lidia Bastianich.

Let me back track. The King of Impeccable Taste and I were in New York many years ago visiting relatives. Why golly! All the tall buildings and that lady holding the torch, really set our country bumpkin hearts a flutter.

I had watched Lidia's cooking show on PBS for years. This was before her son, Joe, became a TV star on such shows as Master Chef and Restaurant Start-up.

My relatives decided to stay home one day, and the King and I set off from Staten Island to Manhattan. We were looking for Lidia's restaurant--Felidia. But we don't know New York City. But we found one of Joe's restaurant's. I can't remember the name of it.


                                                                      Joe Bastianich

Joe wasn't there. And that was fine, since we hadn't seen him on TV and wouldn't have recognized him.

We ate. We died twice. The first time was when we were eating. The food was so good. I remember not what we ate, but we didn't care. Best eats ever. We died the second time when we got the bill. It was $130 for two lunches. And we had mineral water, since the King and I rarely drink wine or other spirits.

This was about a decade ago, when $130 was equivalent to about $200. And way before the King got a decent job. We didn't care if we had to sell our plasma to pay our credit card bill when we got back to Colorado--because we had just stepped into the real world of fine dining.

We went back to my relatives' house and told them we had spent $130 on lunch and didn't care. In my family (yes, Italian--well, sort of--Sicilian, which some people don't consider real Italians) spending over $7 on lunch is high treason. To say that side of my family are thrifty Sicilians is an understatement.

Something is my crazed eyes told my relatives that if we came running back and insisting they go with us to Joe's mother's restaurant, even though it was over $7 per head, it had to be serious.

Since my relatives are thrifty, we offered to pay. But we suggested we just order two lunches for the four of us and split them. They agreed to that. But once they got inside and saw was it was really about--they lost their grip and ordered several lunches.

Even though my relatives are New York born and raised Italians, they had never heard of Lidia Bastianich. 

                                                                  Lidia Bastianich

"Oh, my!" I gushed to my cousin,"I watch Lidia's cooking show on PBS every chance I get, which is odd since I can't cook my way out of a paper bag and don't understand fine dining or cooking. The only words I really understand when she speaks are olive oil, sausage and pasta. There is just something about that lady and her show I like."

My cousin nodded and didn't reply because her face was stuffed with some raspberry-pear ravioli or something. Her eyes were crossing in ecstasy and she made it clear that she still didn't get why I was gushing over Lidia, but agreed the food was the best she'd ever had.

We sat there so long, that all the other diners had pretty much left and it was getting into prep time for dinner. My cousin went to the restroom.

I was looking at the bill, that was close to the price of a small country--but did not care. Yes, that delicious. The King and I and my cousin's husband were chatting when I saw HER out of the corner of my eye.

I have a pretty soft voice and did not mean for my voice to carry. "Oh, my God!" I nudged the King," Look there's Lidia!!!"

She was walking across the dining room, apparently on her way out after a long day. I truly did not mean for her to hear me.

Her body language indicated my screeching had reached her ears and it ticked her off slightly, but she shrugged it off and strode to our table and graciously asked us how everything was. I was mortified, because I had NO intention of her hearing me and coming over. I am rather an introvert.

I couldn't stop gushing, even though I could see she was tired. I told her I watched her on PBS and asked her to sign her newest cookbook for me. She did. What a lady.

The three of us are sitting there in shock after she left. The King was as big a Lidia fan as I was--even before we ate her food. He's usually a little more extroverted and he couldn't say a word, except thank you.

My cousin's husband didn't know who she was, so he just said thanks for the good food.

The door closed as Lidia left her famous Felidia and my cousin returned from the restroom. We told her that she missed Lidia. "Darn!" she yelled. "I always miss everything!" Now, my cousin is the extrovert in the group and would have loved Lidia.

And that is my only brush with fine dining. So, rest assured, I don't know my arse from a souffle. Nor, do I apparently know to use my inside voice when Lidia walks by. So, all that will conspire to get you the most questionable restaurant reviews money can't buy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Setup: Pete Crooks New Book With Forward by Lt. Joe Kenda


I'm a big Lt. Joe Kenda fan and a fan of true crime. So, imagine my delight when I received this email from journalist and author, Peter Crooks.

Hi there,

I came across your blog about Joe Kenda and thought I would let you know about a true crime book I published earlier this year. The story, about a group of con artists who wanted celebrity attention at any cost, is quite a wild tale and has a bizarre intersection with Kenda's show.

I interviewed Kenda for the book, and ended up becoming friends with him, so I asked if he would contribute the forward. He was very generous (and insightful), so he did.


Thanks for your attention!

                                                          ******************

There's the link to Amazon above, for all true crime and Kenda fans to check out the book.

I lived in Colorado Springs for over two decades and it was in the Springs that Kenda solved nearly 400 homicides. 

I just discovered Kenda on Investigation Discovery TV and am catching up with reruns. Imagine my surprise the other day when I saw my former boss, Howard Black, a former colleague of Kenda's on Lt. Joe Kenda: Homicide Hunter. I worked on a special short-term project as a civilian at the Colorado Springs Police Department, but never met Kenda. But I was  impressed by his former colleague, even though I did not know of Kenda back then.

So, all True Story Club readers--go check out Pete Crooks book, with a forward by Lt. Joe Kenda.


I haven't had a chance to read the book, but if it has the Kenda stamp of approval, I'm certain it's a great read.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Florence, Colorado: The Epicenter of Scary Clowns

The King of Impeccable Taste reminded me today that Florence, Colorado IS the antiques capital of Colorado and that while he enjoys mocking a scary clown or two, that many people actually collect and enjoy clowns.

I told him to prove it and he just stood there with a slack jaw. The King is pretty good at comebacks and came up with this. "Well, they would not have manufactured so many clowns to begin with if there was not a demand."

"Tell that to the Goodwills and thrift stores across the world that are overrun with an abundance of clowns." I smirked.

We'll never win this battle. So, as usual we'll just let the clowns speak for themselves.

All I'm saying is that if Florence is the antiques capital and has the highest amount of antiques stores per capita in the state, then it isn't a far reach that the town just might have the highest capita of scary clowns.


I suppose this clown could be a good learning tool. Perhaps give it to one's young son and tell him: "Why Junior, this clown has a receding hairline just like your dear, old dad. There is such a thing as male pattern balding. So when you grow up, you won't be surprised. And try and get a good education and job, so you can afford some hair plugs."


Oh, my! There's price tags on all of us. Doesn't anyone realize that if you paid people to take us away, we still probably wouldn't get good homes?


Why the little doll dressed up as a bear has a look on her face like she just saw something shocking! Wait, it couldn't be because she just saw a hideous clown stuck in with legit collectibles, could it?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Florence Colorado: FREE, FRIENDLY & FUNky

Remember a couple of blog posts ago, I suggested that Florence should NOT be known as the new Manitou, but instead: The FUNkytown of Fremont County?

I've actually come to the conclusion that one cannot label Florence. This town simply defies such pesky boundaries. Today, it's the freest, friendliest and FUNkiest town. Tomorrow it might be something different.

How did I come to that conclusion today? Well, as you might know, I am married to The King of Impeccable Taste. We've already established he likes to makes folk art and steampunk and other crafts from things he fishes out of the Arkansas River or wherever. But we haven't established that he is also the KING OF THE PACKRATS. No, he's not a hoarder. As The Queen of Questionable Taste, I do run a pretty tight ship and rein (or should I say reign) in his packrat tendencies.

Another thing you might not know about the King is that he's the kind of guy that will hop in the car in a middle of a blizzard or monsoon to get you some ice cream or run any kind of errand just because I might be too lazy to leave the house--or want to trick him, so I can clean up his mounds of packrat stuff when he's gone. So, he's a pretty good all-around guy.

BUT, he KNOWS that the Queen gets a touch irritable when he brings more junk home.

Recently I asked him to run a few errands since the Queen had to do our taxes. The Queen is too cheap (um, thrifty) to hire someone to do taxes and gets a touch irritable around tax time.

The King dutifully gets lost for a few hours, going to the post office, etc. I go to the garage when he returns and catch him in the act. He has a sheepish look on his face as he twitches a bit. "Look what I got."

"Why the heck would we need a paint-stained crappy ladder," I muttered. "We already have good ladders and crappy ladders galore."

"This one was FREE!" He crowed.

I scowled.

I gave him the snake eye. In my Italian family, we used to call it the evil eye. But since I rather like the King at times, when the moon and tides are aligned and he isn't ticking me off--I decided to just do the snake eye and not the evil eye.

"What are you going to do with this beauty?" I asked with just a faint dollop of sarcasm.

The King, who has no nervous tics, did twitch again. He knows NOT to mess with the Queen when she is doing taxes.

"Well, haven't you seen these cool shelves they make out of ladders? In the antique stores?"

I replied, that I had seen no such thing and hoped to never see such a thing.

Then I got up closer to this mess of a ladder and saw something that made me smile.


The King stopped twitching.

"Who made that sign?"

"I don't know. Obviously the person who left it outside for free," he said.

"I'll be darned! That's why I love this town. Who would go through all the trouble to make such a cute sign and cartoon just to get rid of an old ladder," I grinned.

I do believe I am now attached to this crappy, paint-spattered ladder.


Isn't it a beauty? And look at some of the crapola (that's Italian for: Get this crap out of my house and garage before I make you some concrete booties and help you swim with the fishes) in the background. Old light fixtures that the King also got for FREE in Florence at some other person's house that just put a pile of stuff outside with a FREE sign. But that's another story. Oh, heck yeah--I'll tell that story in another blog post, because the King just cannot be stopped and someone needs to start a Fremont County Chapter of Packrats Anonymous.

Oh, I digress. This is why Florence is the free, friendly and FUNkytown this week--because not only do people leave free stuff in their yards for people like the King to delight in--they do it in the friendliest and FUNkiest manner. Oh yeah!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Get To Know Florence, Colorado: Doll Dressmaker Maria Sudo

Getting to know the faces behind the incredible array of antiques, collectibles and crafts in Florence, Colorado is always a fun experience.

Maria Sudo is one of the most popular vendors in Florence Antiques, at 103 W. Main St. and it is always enjoyable to chat with her and view her newest creations.

It all started over a decade ago, when Maria retired from the Fremont County Sheriff's Office (in food services) and turned her sewing skills to creating a doll dress for her granddaughter.

"After that, everyone wanted to buy one. And I love to sew and I don't watch TV." Maria said.

Maria has lost track of all the doll dresses she has sewn, gifted and sold. But she estimates the number is around 1,600.

Each of her dresses is a mini work of art. She often uses vintage laces and trims and is often seen in Florence's antique shops purchasing a small button or piece of costume jewelry or trinket to complete a doll dress.

Not only is the artistry in Maria's work remarkable, her prices are also what makes her so popular.

Her doll dresses sell in the $10 to $16 range. And often within minutes of her bringing a new crop of dresses into the shop, they are sold.


Maria is pictured above with a christening doll dress she created. In her display she also offers vintage dolls, some of the dolls are wearing original clothing she created. The dolls are usually in the $20 or under range and she has a selection of dolls (new in the boxes) as low at $2.50 each.

Also popular in Maria's display is her sewing corner where she offers various appliques, laces and notions for as low as $1.


Maria, pictured above, is holding a dress trimmed in vintage lace and jewelry ($12) that sold within minutes of her bringing it to Florence Antiques.

Every time I chat with Maria, I amazed at her workmanship and low prices. I always ask how she can do it. And she never answers directly. But I know: It's a labor of love that started with her granddaughter and now everyone who appreciates dolls and doll clothing and sewing can share.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Queen Of Questionable Taste Goes On A Tanget

As regular blog readers know (and I do offer my condolences) I am the Queen of Questionable Taste. My husband is the King of Impeccable Taste.

A few weeks ago I just got a bee up my bonnet to start blogging about all the FUN things to do and find in Florence.  I do this for fun and with a touch of maniacal glee to amuse myself in between my work as an antiques dealer. I am in no way associated with any of the many fine organizations that promote the Royal Gorge Region, Florence or Fremont County.

But I take a vast interest in this town.

So, now off I go on a tangent. The other day I read a monthly newspaper that has semi-recently made inroads into Fremont County and Florence, in particular. I won't mention the name of the publication. Actually when I read it with my former newspaper reporter and ad salesperson eyes, it's a decent publication.

But I got a little taken aback when I saw a large spread with many display ads from Florence. The ads were great. But one of the headers on the ad introducing all the ads suggested Florence was the new Manitou.

Oh my, as someone with ties to both towns--that got the Queen a little concerned.

For blog readers who reside out-of-state and out of the USA, Manitou Springs is a small town that borders Colorado Springs. We used to live a stone's throw from Manitou and it was and is one of our favorite towns anywhere in the USA.

                                                     Florence's Main St.

We've spent a lot of time in Manitou.

Can I go on off on a tangent or mini-rant?

Manitou Springs is Manitou Springs and Florence is Florence!

I have a pretty good idea why someone at this publication was a good idea to market Florence as the new Manitou. But it's a bit misguided when one considers that Florence has a pretty cool identity and does NOT need to ride on Manitou's coat tails. And it's a bit misguided when one considers that Manitou has suffered from a fire and flooding and is still struggling to regain it's literal footing.

I don't believe there are many more people that love Manitou more than I did and still do.

I used to refer to Florence as the poor man's Manitou. Rents and real estate are cheaper here. That is one reason we moved here.

Both towns have remarkable independent eateries. Manitou has no chain stores. Florence has very few. Both towns have a rather free-spirited feel. World-class artists and artisans.

Florence has more antiques stores. Manitou has more art and gift stores. Each town has such a unique identity that I was a touch offended.

But sometimes I know what goes on behind the scenes in Florence. And when the fire and flooding hit Manitou, there was talk that several people in Manitou were talking to folks in Florence about moving their businesses up here to avoid the flood problems and take advantage of the less expensive cost of living in Fremont County.

But to my knowledge, that has not happened in large numbers yet. And I don't think anyone thought they would turn Florence into the new Manitou. I imagine people who move here and start businesses or get involved in the antiques trade can see that Florence has it's own kicking identity.

I can see Florence and Manitou joining hands so to speak and becoming "sister" cities. Or using resources to draw people to both towns.

I am not so sure how many people in the state of Colorado and out of the state realize how unique these two towns are.

When we lived in the Denver area (before moving to Florence) I used to wax poetic about how I missed the character and funky feel of Manitou as my escape from the larger Colorado cities. And people in Denver had either never heard of Manitou (gasp) or had, but never had been.

So, no--Florence, in my not-so-humble opinion is NOT the new Manitou. It is Florence. And Florence has its own identity.

So, what can we call Florence, besides the new Manitou? The King and I came up with a little something. As you all know, I label a lot of my posts--having way too much fun in Florence.

Yeah! Florence is fun. It's fun for visitors. And when you go behind the scenes, as I plan to take you even more behind the scenes of this great town in the future, you'll see this town is fun with a capital F.

So which would you choose for Florence? The new Manitou? Or our new moniker? Florence: The FUNkytown of Fremont County.

I'll be humming, "Why don't you take me to funkytown..." as you cast your votes. I know you all will choose correctly and not let the Queen down.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Crystal Emporium: A ROCKing Good Selection

A visit to the Crystal Emporium at 107 E. Main St. in Florence is always fun.

We've stopped by a few times to ask for assistance on rock identification and prices and owner, Faye Roberts is always happy to lend her 40 plus years of knowledge.



Roberts offers free appraisals and is always glad to identify rocks for visitors to the store. She has also co-owned another rock store in Colorado for many years and opened the Crystal Emporium six years ago.

The Crystal Emporium is packed with many fine rock specimens, as well crystals, jewelry, antiques, fossils, gifts items and much more.

Roberts is also joined in the shop by owners David and Mary Roberts.