Hats By Katrinka

Kate Brown Pernia is a Milliner on sabbatical in Switzerland. She has been designing hats and teaching millinery under her Katrinka label since the 1980s. Kate is also the founder of Houston Hat Net. View Katrinka hats and hat patterns at www.hatsbykatrinka.com.

Friday, June 30, 2006


Lest you think I’d forgotten that hiking trail I can see from my rooftop, here it is. Claremarie and I tried it out last week on our trip up to St. Georgen. A short walk along the path and we discovered the first of the three ponds I’d heard were in the area. This one is situated just behind a community garden on the hillside between trail and pond. It was a chilly afternoon but at least a dozen souls were swimming all wearing bright yellow swim caps. A club perhaps? I don’t want to speculate on how cold the mountain spring water was. Don’t you just love the herons and frogs carved into the bathhouse? As I write this now the final choruses of Carmina Burana up at the Kathedrale are wafting through my window. What a country!
Kate Q:-)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Last Rösti

Claremarie took us out for one last Swiss meal at Marktplatz Café this evening. It was threatening rain and did sprinkle a bit but we opted to eat out on the plaza anyway as they have large café umbrellas. We’ve had such a good time with Claremarie. We will miss her when she heads back to London tomorrow morning...then Prague...then Budapest. Bon Voyage, Claremarie! K Q:-)

More fun with Claremarie

Sunday Claremarie motivated us out for Mass in the Kathedrale. We were rewarded with more stunning music. Some of the musicians and singers from Carmina were in the loft with our local choir to perform the Mozart Mass. Rococo music by the ultimate Rococo composer in a Rococo cathedral. Wow! Then we were off to Arbon for Straussensteak and to walk by the Bodensee.

Monday Claremarie and I took the train to Luzern and had lunch at Restaurant Fritschi established in 1602. After lunch we scouted out a second hand clothing boutique where Claremarie found some authentic vintage frock coats for a very reasonable price. After our bargain purchase we wandered up a hill and found the old city wall. The towers were open so we climbed up the cool stone stairwell to the top and walked the length of the wall. Would you believe we met another Houstonian at the bottom of the last tower? Small world. We then took the Funicolare up a mountain to see Chateau Gutsch which we found empty and under renovation. Still it was a great view of Luzern. We tired of waiting for the ride down so braved the steps which turned out to be a cool walk through the woods. Oops! Forgot about German class on Monday nights. We got home too late so had dinner at a sidewalk cafe while the Swiss sweated out their last game of the World Cup inside in the stifling restaurants with big screen tvs.

Tuesday we bombed out at the Tourist Bureau and the St. Gallen Theater. No English walking tours today and we couldn’t find a soul at the theater who was willing to even give us a peek of their costume shop. In fact, I was told they didn’t have a shop (probably a language confusion since I know they build costumes for the theater). Oh well, on the way home I found the canvas chairs I’ve had my eye on for half price so now we have roof seating for the rest of the summer.
K Q:-)

Fun with Claremarie

Haven’t posted in awhile as we have had a visitor. Our dear Claremarie Verheyen is stopping here on her world travels and we are having a great time! Of course, we began our adventures at the Textile Museum then off to Bischoff and Jakob Schlaepfer on Wednesday for fabric shopping. I bought some lace (of course) but mostly we drove the Swiss a little crazy touching everything but buying very little. At these prices.....!

Friday we went to the Historic and Folk Art Museum in St. Gallen to see vintage clothing, ceramic stoves, stained glass windows (depicting more fabulous costumes) and amazing carved wooden furniture. When they booted us out at noon (museums close from noon to 2 for lunch) we took the scenic train ride up to Appenzell for lunch in a beer garden. Then we explored the Appenzeller Museum for Frauentragt (folk costumes). We met Frau Schiegg there who teaches Appenzeller embroidery skills at the museum and she gave us an impromptu lesson. One thread at a time, Ladies, and the threads come in different gauges 30 to 150 depending on the stitch. Our Lehrerin said it takes her about 500 hours to embroider one collar!

That evening Claremarie treated us to the St. Galler Festspiele production of Carmina Burana performed outdoors on the grounds of the Klosterhof. It was amazing music and a stunning performance. I had never seen it but some of you know the music from The Omen. What a treat and only 2 blocks from our home!

Saturday was a beautiful day so we wandered around St. Gallen and had an Olma Bratwurst mit Burli for lunch. Looking for an open air table and a beer we wandered over to a local olive oil shop (that also has beer). My Sweetie asked the shop owner if he happened to have any port. You should have seen his eyes light up when the proprietor led us into a port filled cellar. Who knew? They also had vintage balsamic vinegars and gave us a tasting. We purchased a bottle of port and the most expensive bottle of vinegar I have ever owned - sweet and tangy - to be poured sparingly over strawberries, cheese or salad.
K Q:-)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

New Orleans Night

We had New Orleans Night last night! This is an annual celebration in St. Gallen and is a crowded festive event. The weather was hot and so was the music! Five bands were set up in various areas of the Old Town playing jazz and blues in English. They had all the words but some of the rhythms were different enough to suggest that this is not the native music here. Jazz singer, Sydney Ellis, had it right tho'. Most of the bands haled from Germany and the best band, the Blues Boys, were set up right in front our building. We wandered around the various bands and food stalls, ate some tasty shish kebab and Indian curry then repaired to our roof where we could drink wine and enjoy the music above the fray.
K Q:-)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Kunsthalle in Arbon

Here is Starr with her London artist friend Rachel and one of Rachel’s paintings. While I don’t profess to understand modern art, I thought Max Mosscrop's sculptures were interesting from a millinery perspective. They are based on pieces of furniture but made of painted paper held together with paper clamps. Hmmmmmmm!
K Q:-)


We had two social events on our plate today. Starr had invited us to an art opening of her friend Rachel Lumsden in Arbon. We’d also been planning to go to Arbon for ostrich with our friend Rean. So we combined both events for a unique summer afternoon. Starr drove us to Arbon, a small picturesque town on the Bodensee. It has a tower and portions of city wall that date back to Roman times. Here you can see the tower.

After the Opening we met Rean at Frohsinn Restaurant & Brauerei on a patio shaded by chestnut trees. The beer, brewed on site, is very good. As for the ostrich, I was nervous about trying it but was pleasantly surprised. The meal comes on a wooden platter with a very hot stone on it. The ostrich steak is placed on the stone nearly raw but cooks to your preference at table. You slice and leave the meat on the stone until it is cooked to your liking. Delicious! We’d ordered small portions and couldn’t begin to finish the vegetables and french fries that came with it. We did eat all the steak tho’.
K Q:-)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Vielfältig Stadt

We were headed to Kostas der Griesche for lunch today when we were sidelined by a little international festival at the end of our street at Marktplatz. Since we were hungry we walked around to see what sorts of goodies were offered. My eye went first to a Turkish booth where ladies were rolling yeast dough into large flat rounds about the size of flour tortillas. They spooned a mixture of spinach, onions and cheese into the rounds, folded them over and baked them on a griddle. For 5 CHF we had ein portion and it was delicious. Next we found an Indonesian booth where they were frying shredded vegetables mixed with a little dough so, of course, I had to have some of those served with tomato sauce (it turned out to be ketchup). Yummy! Sherman had two sate with peanut sauce which he liked but since he didn’t order it mit Reis und Salat it was more of a snack than lunch. So he tried an African chicken kebab with the works next.

This interkultureller Begegnungstag has a day-long schedule of entertainment including an Alphorn Trio (which, unfortunately, we’d already missed), Sudanesische music, Siamese poetry, sitar music, samba and something called Bollywood dance! These young ladies are performing "Oriental Gypsy Dances" which appear to be a combination of Spanish and belly dancing with a little hula thrown in. Fun for a beautiful Saturday!
K Q:-)

Monday, June 12, 2006

St. Georgen

Another gorgeous day yesterday! I lured my hubby into taking the Mühleggbahn up to St. Georgen to tramp around in the fine weather. I have been searching for the ridge top hiking trail that I can see from my roof in St. Gallen. Sherman wanted to see the town tho’ so we took a less steep path and looked at houses and gardens. Isn’t this one a beauty? Perhaps it was a carriage house in another century. We walked a large circle and ended up at the Vögel Bäckerie Conditerie. Sitting on the sunny terrace next to the duck pond we split a hamburger with Schnittkartoffeln (fried potato wedges) and then indulged in dessert. Sherman ordered Kirschtorte (yummy and not too sweet!) and I had a Coupe Mühlegg which was a scoop each of vanilla, chocolate and coffee ice creams topped with rum, whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles and a big fat grape. Good thing I ordered klein instead of gross! We decided to walk it off down the mountain side.

Just before starting down I climbed some wooden stairs looking for the series of lakes we’d heard about. I didn’t find the lakes but did see the beginning of the Wanderweg (hiking trail) I’d been searching for. Next time! K Q:-)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

European Fashion

For you fashion obsessed. Here are a couple of items we spotted in a window in Luzern. LOVE the embroidery and those round toes! Haven’t seen much of this on the street tho’. Jeans seem to be the rule here.
K Q:-)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Spring at Last!

The sun has come out again and our weather is glorious! Last weekend people were still in winter jackets here but now it’s sandals and tank tops with oozing midriffs everywhere you look. I guess the middle remains the current erogenous zone (sigh) - in many cases not a pretty sight! Whatever happened to sun dresses and straw hats? Cool but not ‘cool’ I guess. Too bad! We saw a man in a very short red miniskirt yesterday. (I have to practice that quickdraw with my camera!!!) Guess my hats are not the only unusual fashion in town.

My nephew David and his pal Parker are on a post-graduation tour of Europe. Two brand new U.Va. engineers, they stopped off to visit us en route from Venice to Munich. While we are probably the smallest town on their itinerary they were charmed by our little St. Gallen. We showed them the Kathedral and Stiftsbibliothek for world culture, did a little status watch window shopping then hopped the Mühleggbahn (our 100 meter subway) up the mountain to St. Georgen for a little afternoon hiking among wildflowers, cowbells and birdsong. They found the bars and the World Cup hoopla on their own last night. That’s my handsome nephew with the darker hair and his Patentanwalt uncle in the suit.
K Q:-)