Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Adventures in Home-made Play Dough

There are hundreds of blogs and websites out there that say how to make your own play I won't insult your intelligence and say that I made this one up.  However, it was the first time that I have ever made it.  I got the recipe from This blog, because I liked how the blogger mixed colors and scents in with the dough.  The only thing I did differently was I didn't make each scent and color batch separately.  Instead, I doubled the recipe and made one big batch of plain dough.  Then I chose my scents and dyes and divided the dough into portions.

You can see here the dough is laying out to cool, and I've made little dividing lines on it.  The scents and colors were what I had on hand in my cupboard.  I didn't have any red food coloring...which was a big bummer to me and Jane, because Jane likes pink and purple (both which need the color red) and because I decided to use Peppermint oil as one of my scents, and red would have been nice for that. (I ended up leaving the peppermint scented bag of dough white...which kind of made me want to eat that Christmas candy I call Peppermint Bark...made with white chocolate and bits of broken peppermint...yeah, you know which one I mean...)  The other color-scent combinations that I chose were yellow with Orange Essence.  This one was my least favorite scent...the orange essence didn't cover up the smell of the homemade dough.  Then there was blue with Almond Oil.  This one reminded me of homemade cookies...yum!  And finally, I chose green with Lavender Oil.  I could have inhaled this one all day long!  I could feel the stress melting immediately.  Jane said this one was her favorite too.

Here are the little balls of divided dough, ready to be mixed with the scents and colors.

I then put the dough in little bags and squished and squished until they were mixed.  This took a long time.

Jane tried to help me, but wasn't that successful.

She quickly grew tired of that task and was ready to play with the dough.

Here's what the dough looked like with all of the colors blended.  I think they could have used a bit more dye.

Here's Jane opening her first bag of dough.  Don't you just love the pure joy on her face!

Jane smelling the dough....  She liked all of the scents, and said that they all smelled good.  But when I asked her what she thought they smelled like, her responses cracked me up.  Here's what she said each one smelled like.
Yellow/Orange Oil:  "Cabbage"
Green/Lavender Oil:  "Pigs"
Blue/Almond Oil:  "Puppies"
White/Peppermint Oil:  "Christmas"
Hmmm......your guess is as good as mine as to HOW those things smell good (except for Christmas, of course).

In typical girl fashion...she went straight for the hearts.

Cutting was next....

Then drawing...

and some pancake making....

On to rolling....

Then pounding...

And finally...this one's my favorite...spreading butter on a 'piece of toast'....

Over-all...a very successful play dough making experience.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Versatile Blogger Award

A lovely young woman and fabulous seamstress, Sarah Jane, at Romantic-History nominated me for The Versatile Blogger Award.  I'm humbled, to say the least.  I'm not really sure what this award is all about (and I have a sneaking suspicion that it is sort of the blogger version of the Forwards we get in emails...hmm).  But, I am honored, none the less. 

Now, I think I am supposed to tell you 7 things about myself that you don't already know about me, and then pass this award on to someone else.  I'm not sure what to tell you that you don't already know about me, but, here goes nothing....

1.  My eye colors change... and yes, I said "colors" plural... my left eye is half brown, and half blue, and my right eye is all blue.  But, the blue part of my eyes changes sometimes to green and sometimes to gray...depending on the weather or what I am wearing (I think this has to do with the colors reflected into my eyes...maybe?)  I know, weird...huh...?  My uncle and my great aunt on the maternal side of my family also have eyes like mine.  In 8th grade, we were learning about genetic mutations and my teacher told me that I was a mutant. Ha!  Not the sort of thing that an 8th grade girl wants to hear!  I've also seen dogs and cats with eyes like this....  enough said....

2.  I am a lover of beautiful things.  Aesthetics play a huge role in my life.  If I'm not surrounded by beautiful things, or if things are out of place, I either have to move it around, or fix it, or else I get very stressed out.  Maybe it's the artist in me....maybe I'm just a little obsessive compulsive.  For example of how crazy I am ...look at the picture above.  It's beautiful, is it not?  Well, I would agree...but the one thing that is bothering me like an itch that can't be reached is the little heater on the floor....I would give anything to reach into that picture and pluck it out....

3.  My favorite era in art history is the Arts and Crafts Movement, also known as Art Nouveau, which occurred around 1880-1914.  It's sinuous styles and nod to nature, grace, and beauty draws me in. 
If I could fill the interior of my house with Art Nouveau furniture, I would.  And the paintings, drawings and etchings of the time are beyond beautiful.  They are asymmetrically balanced, achieving that elusive aesthetic perfection.
Summer: by Alphonse Mucha

4.  I've always thought I was born in the wrong time period.  I'm not a modern girl.  I really hate everything to do with the modern culture.  I despise technology; computers, phones, etc...including blogging... I really fear more people reading this blog because that means more pressure to keep it exciting!  I don't like cars; driving, although I do it, terrifies me.  Malls and other modern shopping stores exhaust me. 
Pressure to "keep up with the Jones", and to be thin in order to be considered beautiful, horrifies me.  People give me odd looks when I tell them that I would rather sit and read a good book, then watch the latest episode of "The Office" or "The Bachelor". 

Winter: Alphonse Mucha
5.  I'm an introvert that secretly wishes she was an extrovert.  I am very socially awkward, and would be happy to cloister myself away from society in an old house in the woods or on the beach. 
 But, most of the time, I'm wishing that I could converse with the best of them.  I've always wanted to try my hand at acting.  The theatre excites me.  Maybe some day I will let the hidden extrovert in me come out, and audition for a play.

6. I'm a Christian, but I struggle with the idea of 'Institutions'.  I think the cathedrals of old are beautiful and inspire communion with God.  But the idea of Church as a building or institution(even though I do go to one) kind of bothers me.  I think that THE Church is a body of believers, and even though I think it is beneficial to come together and worship, I believe that the real idea behind Christianity...what Christ intended...was for that body of believers to live as one community; helping each other; lifting one another up; encouraging and taking care of the poor; loving our enemies through acts of kindness and selflessness. what the Church is all about.

7.  Politics...hmm...everyone always seems to mention something about their political views in these things.  I really don't like politics, and typically I don't discuss them, because I think that they are so far off from what life is intended to be about.  But, I guess I will say a few things about my political views.  First, I don't think that we should force political parties upon Believers and Non-Believers.  Politics should be completely separate from our beliefs.  I think that there can be Conservative Democrats as there can also be Liberal Republicans.  I've known some amazing Christians who are Democrats, and some of the slimiest non-Christ-like people who are Republicans...and vice-a-versa.  I think that Politics today are the same as they always have been...greedy, power hungry people have been fighting over control of countries for centuries...that won't change, because people are always going to be greedy and power hungry as long as there is sin in the world.  There's nothing I can do about any of this, so, I try not to pay attention to it and let the ugly-ness of it  get in the way of making my life one of beauty and love.

So...those are my 7 things.  And now, I'm going to pass this on to two people who I think have AMAZINGLY pure and beautiful blogs.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Regency Gentlemen Outfits

Well, here they are.  I've completed the shirt, cravat, waistcoat and trousers for the two gentlemen who will be accompanying Laura and me to the Jane Austen Festival.  No, the two gentlemen aren't twins.  My husband is the model for both outfits, because Laura's husband is, alas, with her in Scotland.  These outfits are complete with the exception of the outer Frock Coats (which I am currently working on...pray to God I get them done before the festival!)

First outfit up for critique is my husband's ensemble.  You may remember the earlier post on what I wanted him to wear.  The frock coat will be a deep blue color.  Imagine that, if you can.
The drop-front trousers color is called British tan, and they are made of a soft, light-weight wool.  My husband remarked that they are very comfortable.  The waistcoat is an ivory silk taffeta.  Word of caution when working with taffeta...sewing machines like to eat silk....or at least mine had a hearty appetite for it.  The undershirt and cravat on both outfits are linen.

Laura's husband will be attired in a slightly heavier-weight wool, slate-green trousers, and a checked, raw-silk waistcoat.  I covered the buttons on this outfit with the trousers fabric, because the raw-silk was so loosely woven, it fell apart in my hands.  Let me just say that buttons are the bane of my existence, and there were way too many to be covered on these outfits!  I nearly jumped out the window from insanity trying to cover all of those little pieces of metal!

On both outfits, I used the Kannik's Korner Shirt pattern, and the Rocking Horse Farms Trousers and Waistcoat pattern.  Kannik's Korner was a dream to work with, and I would highly recommend it.  RHF, however was a nightmare.  I made a muslin of everything before I cut into the good fabric, and boy was I glad I did.  Their pattern pieces were entirely too large; I had to downsize about 3-4 inches in many places to get them to fit properly, as well as lengthening several inches through the crutch and waist.  Also, their instructions left a LOT of room for imagination...that's putting it nicely...they were incomprehensible in many spots.  I was lost more times than I can say.  Over-all, I wouldn't recommend their patterns to my worst enemy.

That being said, I am very pleased with my first attempt at tailoring.  It was much more challenging then dress-making...but I kind of liked the challenge. 

Wish me well on the Frock Coats!
(They use a Tailor's Guide pattern and are much easier to understand.)

Long over-due Update

It's been a long time since I've updated you on the progress of my friend Laura's Round Gown.  So sorry that I've neglected this.  There have been so many things going on since I last posted about it.  It is finished, and you might have even noticed her gown in the post about the Arts and Crafts fair (though I don't think I mentioned anything about it being hers).  I am sort of waiting until after the Jane Austen Festival to give you a really good look at the total outcome.  Not because I love watching you suffer in,no,no... it's because I think the gown will look best in a period setting (and on my friend...who, at this moment is hiking the beautiful Cairngorm mountains in Scotland...lucky girl!)  The JA Festival is being held at Locust Grove, in Louisville, KY.  It's a beautiful estate and will make for some lovely photographs of us in our gowns. 

However, I will give you a sneak peek of the finished gown.

It's not actually a Round Gown.  We ran a little short on the reproduction fabric, and so, decided to make it into a Round Robe.  You have already seen the petticoat that is worn under the gown.  There are very few seams done by machine.  It's about 90% hand sewn, and the construction of the gown is entirely period correct.  I had a lot of help with extensive research from my friend Natalie and from Suzi-Clarke  and Dawn Luckham, two expert seamstresses, and period costumiers I met on the Sense and Sensibility Forum.

And here is a sneak peek of the Crossover Gown I will be wearing. 

I made my gown last fall using the Elegant Ladies Closet Pattern from Sense and Sensibility Patterns, but I haven't really had a good opportunity to wear it yet.  My fabric is also a reproduction fabric.

In my next post, I will give you an update on my husband's outfit, and on what Laura's husband will be wearing.  The festival is two weeks from today.  I'm looking forward to it, like a child looks forward to Christmas!

Friday, June 25, 2010

5th Anniversary

Today, June 25th, 2010, my husband and I have been married for 5 years.  They say that the 5th year anniversary is the the 'year of wood', which represents strength and longevity.

Five years sounds like such a small amount of time.   But, sadly, in today's modern culture, 5 years of marriage is more than a lot of people make it to.  To me, it feels like we've been married for decades.  Already, in our short time of being married we've gone through some pretty low valley's. There have been moments when the murky waters and dense underbrush have seemed too tough to wade through.  The light overhead has faded and we haven't been able to see our way.  At these times when it would have been so easy to call it quits, we've looked to God as our source of Light and He has guided us through.  And always, the view from the top of the mountain has been worth the difficult trek up it.

Us, dating: 2003
My husband and I met 7 years ago. (Don't you just LOVE my husband's shaggy hair-do above....blah! was one of the 1st things to go, mind you!)  We have sort of a strange story.  I don't think that it's typical (maybe I'm wrong).  I was one who thought for sure I would find my husband in college.  But, that didn't happen.  God had VERY different plans.  Let's just say that if I were Marianne in Sense and Sensibility, my husband Carson is my Colonel Brandon.

Let me tell you a short story.

It was the summer of 2003 (one year after college graduation).  I was bummed because one of my two best friends had just gotten married, and my other best friend had just gotten engaged.  Both of these precious young ladies were my roommates, and they were like family to me.  These new events in their lives meant I would be left alone, with no prospects.  I prayed hard that either God would help me be content with my singleness, or he would lead me to my mate...and quick-like (how demanding we can be)!

Suddenly (within a week of my pleading wouldn't you know it), I found myself being asked out on dates by 5 different guys!  I was never really one to date much...more like the kind that got to know the guys as friends first.  But, after all of my prayers and pleading, I thought maybe God was giving me the green light to go ahead and try it out.  Needless to say, I didn't really enjoy these dates.  If anything, they showed me what I DIDN'T want in a husband.  And then....

I was visiting my friend Sue.  Her husband, at the time, was a musician, and they frequently hosted bands who were touring through the area.  While I'm at her house, in walks a band of young men, and one of the members was this tall, very skinny, guy with the shaggiest mane of hair I had ever seen.  I wasn't attracted to him.  But, I noticed that he looked at me, and then he proceeded to hide somewhere in another part of the house. (I found out later from him that when he saw me, he was smitten, and was ashamed of his dirty, scraggly appearance after being on the road for weeks.  And he had gone to the bathroom to clean up....poor fellow.)

The next day, my friend called to tell me that this young chap (Carson is his name) was interested in talking to me, but had been too shy.  He had asked her for my email address and phone number, and she was calling to see if I would give my permission.  I didn't know him, and was leery, but she was confident that he was a nice guy (a Christian) and her word's to be exact were, "I think you should give him a chance."  I trusted my friend, so I said yes.

Over the next few weeks, Carson emailed me...from the road, because they were back on tour...and I got to know a very sweet, kind hearted young gentleman through letters.  My attraction to him, though initially not there, grew because of his personality and conviction.  He was one of the most honest young men I had ever met.  And that October, he called me for the first time, to wish me a happy birthday.  From there, our relationship grew, mostly over the phone and Internet, and I only saw him in person about 3 or 4 times between July and December of that year.  We knew that God was leading us down a definite path, but that Carson wouldn't be able to keep up the musician/touring lifestyle that he was currently leading if we were going to get married.  That Christmas, he invited me to California to visit his family.  And while I was there he told his family that I was "the one."

Christmas, 2003: In California


There was a battle warring inside of Carson.  Even though he new that God was telling him I was the one he was going to marry, he was hesitant to give up the musician lifestyle.  He told me in December, that the month of January would be his last month on tour, and then he would move to Kentucky.  January came, and then he told me that he wanted to keep touring until May....I was crushed....wondering what God had planned.  Well, God didn't have it in His plans to wait until May.  Nothing stops the plans of God.  January, 31st, super bowl Sunday, I got a late night phone call from my soon to be husband.  He said that while he and the other members of the band were inside watching the game, someone had stolen their van and trailer, including all of their equipment, instruments, and luggage.  He had nothing but the clothes on his back.  Talk about the hand of God moving!  He took that as a HUGE sign from God (as did I), and moved immediately to Kentucky.

A year and a half later, we were married.

Notice his hair is cut!

Us on our Honeymoon: June 2005

January 2007
A year and a half after we were married, we had our first child. (notice the gray already creeping into our hair!...oh the things children do to ones youth!)

And now, 5 years later, we are still here, and blessed beyond what we could have imagined.  Every time life gets hard, I remind myself of the way God's hand has moved in our life.  As cheesy as this sounds, we were truly meant to be.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Making up my Capote

I decided to add some trimmings to my Capote Bonnet.  I couldn't find any of that beautiful woven braid (for the edge) I so dearly liked on the Marianne bonnet.  So, I just used some ribbon and a couple of peacock feathers that I already had around the house.  The fashion plate above was kind of the inspiration for my bonnet trimmings.  But, obviously, I didn't follow it exactly.

The left side view...with feathers.

The right side view...without feathers.

The front view. 
You can see how I 'ruched' the ribbon under my chin.  I only tacked everything onto the bonnet, so that I can take it off later if I wish to, and make it up another way.  I will most likely change it all anyway, because the ribbon I used isn't silk, and so not period correct.  It will have to do for now, though...I'm running out of time.  So....what do you think?

Oh, and on a side note:  The ear-rings that I am wearing are what I am planning to wear to the festival.  I got this pair in Pompeii, Italy about 9 years ago.  They are replicas of ear-rings found on the Pompeii excavation sight, and thus, very classical looking...perfect for a Regency event.

Monday, June 21, 2010

My First Living History Event

Well, we made it back from our first Mid-Century Living History Event in Perryville, KY with little more than a few bug bites and a bad case of exhaustion.  We couldn't get the camera out much, because of the very strict "no modern stuff showing" rule.  So, this is the only real picture I could sneak in of the two of us (my husband couldn't go because he was a volunteer at this year's Ichthus Festival.)
No, that's not our tent... we aren't THAT good yet.  And...erm....actually, those aren't our gowns, yeah, we TOTALLY felt like the new kids in town.  Jane's gown was loaned to us by one of the reenactors, and as we were leaving the event, the very kind lady that loaned it out to us told us that we could keep it.  I'm not sure if that was because she is very kind, or if it was because the hem was 4 inches deep in mud and there were lemonade stains down the front.... I'm guessing it was a little of both.  As I said in my last post, Beverly Simpson graciously loaned me the gown I got to wear.  It wasn't as hot as I thought it would be.  All of those layers were natural fibers like cotton and it breathed nicely, especially with the hoop underneath.  I had to do quite a lot of fitting to get the dress to fit me though.  Beverly is a tall lady, and I am, well, not.  I had to hem the bottom of the skirt about 4 inches, and tuck in the top of the skirt about 2 inches.  Then, I had to create several tucks along the bodice and at the shoulders in order to get a good fit.  Over-all, I think I wore it nicely.

Jane and I got our picture taken in the exact same way that a person of the mid-1800's would have.  Most people know of these photos as "Tin Types," but the official term would be "Ferrotype" photography.  The image came out a bit light, so it is hard to see in the picture above.  What do you think?  Could we pass as an antique???  It makes me think of one of my favorite 19th century photographers, Julia Margeret Cameron.  I positively love her photographs. maybe not as good as Julia Margeret Cameron's...but, anyway...

The photographer and I were a bit worried about capturing Jane on film.  The exposure time on an antique Ferrotype camera is anywhere from 4 to 6 seconds...this isn't your modern day digital, mind you.  And any movement made while the lens is open causes a blurred image.  She's quite the squirmy one.  And we didn't want her to end up with 2 heads.  But, I was the proudest mama ever, because all the photographer had to say was if she stood very, very still, see might get to see the rabbit that lives inside the camera box. 
She didn't move a muscle...poor gullible thing...

I wanted to show you how I did my hair.  It was BEAUTIFUL at the beginning of the day.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture before the event, so what you are seeing now is the wilted, exhausted after sorry.  I used rats (similar to my friend Natalie's tutorial here) to make the sides stick out a bit.  But my favorite part of the hairstyle was the braided bun at the back.

I bet you are wondering if I liked Living History...right?...yeah, I know you are, soooo, here goes my long winded rant. 

Did I like it? The answer is Yes.
Would I do it again?  Not until I have my own equipment and my own gown.

You see, not only did I feel like the new kid in town, but I also felt a bit homeless and alone.  The other reenactors were VERY nice.  They let us sit down with them, eat with them, talk with them, etc...but we didn't have any place to call our own, and I'm sure you guys and gals can relate to needing your own space carved out somewhere in which to go and relax, take a nap, read a good book, get some piece and quiet.  Right?  Am I the only one that feels this way? 
Reenacting equipment is quite elaborate, and expensive.  I mean, these people didn't just have a simple canvas tent and sleeping bag, they had the tents, canopies, REAL antique beds, tables, chairs, dishes, lamps, cooking equipment, blankets, boxes, food, etc., etc...  They set up little homes.  Everything was historically accurate.  All that to say, it might be a while before I can afford to have all of that collected. 
Until then, I might go for a day trip somewhere, once I get my own gown made.  Even though I was grateful to be lent a very pretty gown, I've never liked wearing hand-me-downs.  My husband can go into a Goodwill or second hand store and come out with an arm-load of clothes.  I cringe at the thought of entering one of those places.... don't get me wrong, I'm not looking down on people that do shop there.  I certainly could benefit from saving some money at a second hand store.  It's just one of those strange, idiosyncrasies I have...I don't like wearing other people's clothing. (sorry...back to the point of this post now.)

One other thing about Living History that I think I might need to work, scratch that, I KNOW I need to work on this...  is making a first person impression.  Basically, that means I have to come up with a 'story' about who I am as a person in the 1860's, and then when I'm at the event, I have to 'act' like I really am that person living 150 years ago.  Sheesh... I really am bad at improv.  I thought I had it all down in my head, and then when another reenactor would strike up a conversation with me, I would just freeze!  It was so hard for me to think about a response that was period appropriate. 
 For example: One of the gentlemen there asked me if I had family there looking to buy horses(it was a horse trading/buying this is a purely fictitious question he is asking me.)  I sputtered and ummed and stumbled over my words, because my brain was thinking: "No...why would I need a horse. And does it look like I have family here?"  But, no, that is not what I was supposed to say.  What I should have said was "No sir.  I've recently come from the city to visit a dear friend, who happens to be here buying horses."  So...what did I do....I said nothing, and turned about 5 shades of red, and angelic Beverly came to my rescue.  Wow, I'm awkward!

I know I'm not making this sound like I enjoyed myself, but truly, I did.  I met several very nice families while I was there, and when I left I wished there had been more time to meet more of them.  My daughter had a blast playing with all of the other children there.  I absolutely adored dressing up.  I loved the history behind it.  I was fascinated by the camps and homes set up amongst the trees and fields.  I enjoyed watching people carry on life as they would have in the 19th century. 

God willing, Living History will be something I do again.  As tired as I was at the end of the day, and as much as I embarrassed myself, I liked it very much.  One day I will look back on my first event as a reenactor and laugh.  I will eventually learn how to be comfortable in my own skin, it's just going to take a little time...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Of Twirly Skirts and Petticoats

This weekend, I am going to my first Mid-Century (circa 1869) Reenactment at the Perryville, KY Battlefield and Living History Museum.  It's not the actual Battle of Perryville reenactment, it's called "Perryville on the Farm" and from what I've heard, the weekend is filled with horse trading and horse racing...very fitting for the Bluegrass area that I live in. 

I was invited to the event a few weeks ago, and being so busy with all of the Regency stuff I'm making for the Jane Austen Festival, there wasn't time for me to make a gown.  So, Beverly Simpson, the Camp Coordinator for the Living History Museum was kind enough to loan me and my daughter some gowns.  And my dear friend Natalie at ZipZipsVintageSewing loaned me one of her hoops.  All I had to make were aprons, bonnets, chemises and petticoats.  This was a much bigger task than I expected...SO many layers and SO much fabric for mid-century clothing!!
It looks like I will be spending the day starching and ironing!!

My daughter Jane was thrilled with the fluffy skirt and comfortable cotton feel of the fabric.  Even in her undergarments, she twirled and spun around the room exclaiming she was a princess.

I just adore this little pinafore!  Forgive the fact that she is wearing it over her modern pajamas.  I got the free patterns for the petticoats, chemise, pinafore and slat bonnet on Elisabeth Stewart Clark's website.  They were very easy and quick to make.

When the weekend is over, I will post more about the gowns we borrowed and the events that we participated in.  I'm eager to try reenacting, and yet, a little nervous because I'm one that likes to know what things are going to be like in advance.  Also, the forecast is calling for a high of 94 degrees on Saturday! Yikes!!  ....all of those layers....  if you don't hear from me in a while, it's probably because I'm recovering from a heat stroke!