Guest Blog: The Antiques Diva Meets Victorian Cobweb

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 300px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />Dear Diva Readers,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Today’s blog post comes to you from my Name Twin! A “Name Twin” is someone who has the same first name as you do. If you’re named Lisa, or Elizabeth, Amy or Jessica, finding others who share your name might be old hat, but when you have an unusual, somewhat bizarre, first name like I do it’s an utter surprise (and delight) when you find another person with your same first name! Though you know me by “The Diva”, in real life my first name is Toma and so when a few years ago I crossed paths with another girl from Oklahoma named Toma who happened to be as antiques-obsessed as me, I knew we were destined to become friends.

Over the past few years we’ve emailed regularly – tomas-and-round-top-texas-antiques.html” target=”_blank”>The Two Toma’s going back and forth, modern day pen pals and it’s been such a pleasure. Last year The Other Toma and I had a chance to meet face-to-face and we couldn’t stop gabbing!! But before I babble on, let me stop and turn this blog post over to The Other Toma – we’ll let her tell you our story!

So Ta Ta from this girl named Toma (aka The Antiques Diva) and Hello from My Name Twin Toma, author of” target=”_blank”>Victorian Cobweb!


to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 88px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />Did you know that the International Pen Friends actually started in Sweden in the 1920’s, came to the USA and was promoted at the 1933 World’s Fair with Parker Pens and resurfaced in the 60’s as Pen Pals? I didn’t know this until recently and I am continually surprised & interested in what one can find on the internet. I love clicking my way through the internet, discovering one history then another, with one story leading to something else like antique Parker Pens. For me, this is how history is learned and interests are formed, collections are started, and friends are made.

to 10px; WIDTH: 129px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 200px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />I got the chance to meet my “21st Century Pen Pal” (my term for a pen pal via internet e-mail) this past holiday season and am looking forward to reconnecting in person this Dec 2009. As those who follow the wonderful blog of The Antiques Diva knows, she is my “name twin”. And that’s how this whole thing came about – our name – Toma.

to 10px; WIDTH: 316px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 400px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />About 2 or 3 years ago she was in my home town visiting her family and she happened by a little boot store that I pitch in to help on occasion and saw a Christmas stocking with her/my name written on it! Too cool she thought, and for those of you who actually know the Diva know that in her wonderful bubbly-inquisitive-outgoing Diva self had to find out who it was that had her name! So she left a card with the proprietor for me (come to find out she rarely has her calling cards on her person – so clearly her remembering her cards meant we were fated to meet) and the next thing I knew I was emailing her. The whole block (all friends of mine) was abuzz with the “other” Toma as I came to find out a day or two after her shopping trip – everyone was asking and telling me about this young woman visiting from Europe with my name!

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 321px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />So for the past 2 years we have kept up a steady email campaign back and forth – learning about what makes the other Toma tick and along the way finding out that there are numerous similarities in our lives besides our given names. In the meantime I have learned about a lifestyle (what she calls “expat life”) and I’ve been exposed to all sorts of things I had never had reason to think about before! Since meeting the Diva, I learned about geography in a way that my school teachers never taught, numerous other things along the way, but the most important thing is I gained a wonderful friend!

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 286px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />This past Christmas 2008 we were fortunate to meet each other and we’re already looking forward to our Dec 2009 encounter! The Diva last year was living in The Netherlands and upon meeting she brought me a beautiful present from Holland! She gave me a Dutch tulip vase and I delved into studying it. As soon as the first blossom appeared (it wasn’t a tulip, but I was so excited to use my vase I couldn’t wait), I plucked the beautiful yellow daffodils that dot the old homesteads and landscapes here.

to 10px; WIDTH: 337px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 400px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />When we met, The Diva recanted a bit of history about the Tulip industry in Holland and the odd little Tulip Vases that I thought was fascinating and right up my alley as I love a little bit of history, mystery, intrigue and of course an antique. So, I went to the internet for a bit more information and was surprised at what I found!

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 267px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />In the early 16th Century (which would be the 1500’s) the Tulips came to the Netherlands by way of Turkey and as such they were very expensive. This led to greed and theft of the exotic flower bulbs which in turn fueled Holland’s tulip industry for years to come. This inspired the Dutch potters to make very special multi-spouted vases just for the prized blooms. Only one of the vases pictured below is an antique but all are unique. Enjoy!

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Tulip Vase from Freshome

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DeWit Unica Delftware at Dutch Village Shopping

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Web Gallery of Art
1690’s Royal Collection, Hampton Court

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Dutch Souvenirs
Fun and whimsical vase.

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Tulip vase Piet

Take a moment out of your busy day to stop and smell the flowers! And my advice is to find your name twin and start your own pen pal relationship!

Thanks for letting me guest blog!

The Other Toma,” target=”_blank”>VictorianCobweb

* Dutch flag pic courtesy of and the tulip bulbs pic is from

Expat Women Business Idea of the Month – Vardit Kohn

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Diva Readers might remember last month when Expat chose The Antiques Diva™ Exclusive Private Guided Antique Shopping Tours of Holland, Belgium and France as their Business Idea of the Month! I was thrilled with the publicity and honored to be chosen by this top-notch online newsletter. This month, my friend Vardit Kohn, creator For Goodness Sake and author of several cookbooks, is featured as The Expat Business Idea of The Month!

For those of you who are not familiar with Expat, I encourage you to visit the site. Their mission is to inspire expat women’s success abroad by providing a first-stop website to share stories, network globally, develop personally and find the best expat resources. The” Business How To” tips Vardit Kohn gives in this month’s interview are guaranteed to help any entrepreneur, whether living in their homeland or abroad!

When asked “What advice would you give to other women wanting to set up businesses in a foreign country?” Vardit, in typical V-fashion, responded, “Just Do It! Don’t let if’s, what if’s and but’s deter you. Fear is the only thing that keeps us in our tracks and stops us from moving ahead. Get over it, no matter what country you live in. There is not such a thing as failure. If the result is not what you wanted, learn from it and move on. Do not use your new environment as an excuse; you could have failed in your own country, too. Think of the foreign environment in which you live as an advantage rather than a disadvantage. Are there things you could do/learn there that you could not back home? Are there business opportunities that have opened up thanks to your new country? Can you combine skills/contacts from your homeland with ideas/opportunities in your new location?”

You might recall from my own interview with Expat that when asked for my top 5 tips for starting a career in a suitcase, Tip # 4 encouraged readers to find a mentor. With advice such as that above, you can see why I chose Vardit Kohn to fill the role of mentor for me – a chat with V is like having your own personal cheerleader!

to 10px; border:0px; CURSOR: hand; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ /> If I could only recommend one gift to give yourself this year, it would be to schedule an appointment with Vardit Kohn, Natural Nutritionist, to discuss your health and nutrition so she could be your own personal cheerleader too! Vardit’s confident manner, her approach to a healthy lifestyle and experience consulting everyone from individuals like you and me to employees of the European Space Agency make a visit with her a healthy treat!

If you’re living in Holland or just passing through, email Vardit for a personal consultation or to join one of V’s healthy cooking courses! You might just see me there!

Best Wishes for A Happy & Healthy Lifestyle!

The Antiques Diva™

Photo Right:
The Irish Queen with Vardit at a Gooi Luncheon this summer – Sadly I’m not in the pic as I was behind the camera clicking away!