Saturday, July 30, 2011

2011 Miss Czech Slovak US Pageant

Dear Czech costume enthusiasts,
Next weekend is sure to be of interest to you! The 2011 Miss Czech Slovak US Queen will be selected next weekend at Czech Days in Wilber, Nebraska. This pageant is held annually the first weekend in August and this is the 25th Anniversary of the pageant. SO, not only will there be all the lovely contestants for this year, there will also be MANY of the returning national winners and state queens from the previous years.
Wilber, Nebraska is a tiny little town that you are sure to fall in love with, as we have. The residents literally open up their arms to 40,000 or so of their "closest friends." (You see if you come to Czech Days you will quickly become a close friend to everyone in this little town.) You will also see Czech culture at its best, including the beautiful costumes, food, music, dancing, museum, parades, etc.
So, make plans this week and we will see you next weekend. My daughter, Sarah, was the 2006 Miss Czech Slovak USA Queen so we will be there all weekend. Be sure and look for us, I would love to meet you and hear your opinion and ideas for the blog.

These lovely ladies will be competing for the Miss Czech Slovak US Queen title at Czech Days. I know the competition will be difficult! Pick out your favorite and be sure to come cheer her on! For more information, go to the Miss Czech Slovak US Queen website by clicking on the photo of the current Queen, Stefanie Vocasek (on right side of blog).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Preparing Petticoats for Travel

We left off a few days ago when I was cleaning and starching petticoats. After the petticoats are washed, I hang them up (see picture from previous post) out in the sun spread out as much as possible. While hanging I spray the petticoats with full-strength liquid starch. I sprayed the petticoats until they were drenched with the liquid starched, evenly distributed.
After the petticoats are dried, I checked to see how "stiff" they were. Let me explain, I am preparing the petticoats for a 12-hour car ride and they have to stay fresh for a weekend long festival. So, for our purpose they were not stiff enough so I repeated the starching process. Czech costume expert, Maggie Grmela, recommends buying powdered starch and boiling it mixed with water but I could not find the powder. She says the boiling method works much better.
When I was happy with the stiffness, I ironed the petticoats (I did not use any more starch). As I ironed the petticoats, I used clothespins to keep the pleats in place. (See photo.) This serves two purposes 1) keeping the pleats during travel and 2)compacts the petticoats without destroying the shape. A few years ago, when traveling the 12-hour car ride to Nebraska, my daughter Sarah and her cousin Lindsay had to sit in the back seat the entire way with stiff petticoats in their laps. We would not recommend this way of travel. Boy, was that a long ride for them. Oh well, live and learn.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

We Are Not "Two-Percenters"

Sorry for the weird title. But, I know Texas Aggies will know what a "two-percenter" is. But for all of the rest of you, a "two-percenter" is an Aggie who does not participate in Aggie Traditions. For this post, I use this term for those who just "wear" Czech costumes as opposed to those who like to "showcase" a Czech costume (kroj). When you showcase a kroj, you have it at its very best from the tips of your toes to the top of the flowers or cap on your head. For us, that means first things first...the petticoats.

A kroj (authentic or Americanized) will not look its best unless the petticoats are prepared. Yes, petticoats! Plural. Most Czech costumes need multiple, starched petticoats to stand out as they should. SO, as we get ready for Czech Days in Wilber, Nebraska, and Westfest in West, Texas, the first thing we do is clean and starch the petticoats. My motto is if the petticoats cannot stand up on their own, they need more starch!!

So, don't be a "two-percenter" and if you have Czech costumes, don't just wear them SHOWCASE them.

More posts and pictures coming soon.

Thanks for your patience.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Antique Costume

Dear readers,
Forgive my absence. (Please see previous post for more details.) I've been staying busy with several personal projects but I do have a Czech-costume related project that you might be able to help with. A dear reader (I will withhold her name because I did not get permission to identify her.) has sent me a very generous gift. She has entrusted a family heirloom to me, a beautiful Czech costume. I am currently researching what region this costume represents. It appears that it may be from Bohemia but if you know anything about it, please email me at I would like to have the costume cleaned and restored. The colors are so vibrant. It is just splendid!

Please check back often and be patient. In the mean time, I would love to hear from you about your Czech costumes!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Ed Middlebrook 1961-2010

Dear friends,
I have not posted anything for a while now because I lost my husband of 30+ years in October. We were high school sweethearts and got married just out of high school. I am back at work and staying busy. In my absence, please look through the past posts and I hope they are of some value to you.
God bless,
Sharon Middlebrook
Edward Ray Middlebrook, age 49, of West, passed away early Wednesday morning, October 6, 2010 at his residence.

Funeral services will be held 10:00 a.m. Friday at the First Baptist Church in West, with Dr. John Crowder officiating. Burial will follow at Bold Springs Cemetery. The family will receive visitors from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home.

Ed was born September 20, 1961 in Waco, the son of Bobby Ray and Barbara Ann (Skopik) Middlebrook. He graduated from St. Mary’s School in 1976, West High School in 1980, received an associate’s degree in Information Systems from McLennan Community College in 1982, and became a Certified Computer Professional in 1989. On June 14, 1980 he was united in marriage to Sharon Hill in West. Ed was an information systems manager for Plantation Foods in Waco from 1981 to 2002. He then became the information systems manager for a team of programmers for Central Freight Lines. Ed was a member of the First Baptist Church in West, there he served as a Deacon (past chairman), an adult couples Sunday School teacher, a new member class teacher, and the chairman of the Stewardship Committee. Ed enjoyed being an amateur radio operator (call sign “KC5NT”) for over 30 years. He was a past president and member of the Heart of Texas Amateur Radio Club, a past president of the West Youth Baseball/Softball Association, a state officer of the Czech Heritage Society of Texas, a member of the McLennan/Hill County Czech Heritage Society, a member of West SOKOL, and a precinct chairman of the McLennan County Republican Party.

Survivors include his beloved wife of 30 years, Sharon Middlebrook of West; a son, Eddie Middlebrook and wife Amanda of Lacy Lakeview; two daughters, Katy Frazier and husband Kyle of Houston and Sarah Middlebrook of Denton; a very special granddaughter, Katie Middlebrook; his parents-in-law, Joe and Peggy Hill of West; a brother, Robert Middlebrook of Waco; a sister, Lisa Middlebrook and friend Hank Dawson of West; brothers-in-law, Dennis Hill and wife Linda and Kenneth Hill and wife Melinda; sister-in-law, Rebecca Holloman and husband Jeff; and many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

Active pallbearers are Ervin Middlebrook Jr., David Skopik, Richard Skopik, Charles Franke, Dennis Hill, Kenneth Hill, Jeff Holloman, and Benny Worley. Honorary pallbearers are the First Baptist Church of West Deacons and the Heart Of Texas Amateur Radio Club Members.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the First Baptist Church of West Building Fund, the Texas Czech Heritage and Cultural Center in LaGrange, or to the West Youth Baseball/Softball Association.