Saturday, August 28, 2010

A girly-girl day of hair styling!

This morning was a very girly-girl morning.  My husband fled quickly to "escape the estrogen" (these are his words), because the Jane Austen Sewing Society, as we call it, met at my house this morning.  But, instead of doing any sewing, we decided to have a "dress rehearsal" of sorts.  You see, in July, when we went to the Jane Austen Festival, we found that it took two or three times longer to get dress in 1790's garb than it did in our modern get-ups.  Resulting in not a few of us running late for the festival.  Maybe we just aren't practiced enough, or maybe it really did take take ladies and gentlemen of the era hours to get ready....we don't know, but we are betting it is a little bit of both.

So, this morning, we decided to practice.  From 10am until nearly 2pm, we snacked on junk food like Oreo's and Combos, drank coffee and Tab.  And played dress up!

The funny thing is (or maybe it's not so funny), during all of those hours, we didn't even get close to trying on any clothing....the entire time we were submerged in styling our hair!

Maybe we need another dress rehearsal!

Oh, well, it was a blast anyway....and I would like to share with you the fruits of our labor.

Kathleen was the only one of us that has the perfect, naturally curly hair required for the 1790's hair style.  All we really had to do was add a ribbon and pin a few locks up.

First we sectioned off the hair, letting some hang forward around the face, and some temporarily piled on top of the head out of the way.  We tied some silk ribbon around her head, and then knotted it at the base of the head, and pinned it in place.

We pulled some of the front-side hair over the ribbon, and pinned it in the back.  Then, took a little of the back-top hair and created a small bun-like roll at the crown of her head.  This was to give her hair some height.

Finally, we pulled up more pieces of hair and draped them over the little bun we put up earlier, creating a lovely "puffy" effect. 

We made sure to leave some "love-locks" hanging down in the back.

Here's the lovely result of Kathleen's hair-style.

Next....we move on to me.  I've done my hair in a 1790's fashion before, using pin curls HERE.  So, I did it a bit different this time.

This time, I used rats to give my hair some volume.  I pinned them to the crown of my head, parted my hair and added a ribbon just like Kathleen's hair.

Then, with the help of a few of the ladies, they covered the rats with some of my real hair.

They used a curling iron to make my hair a twisted mess.

They added another band of silk ribbon....

...and started pinning little curls back over the ribbon and up from the back.

Here are the results of my hair-style.  (It feels kind of weird to me to be wearing modern clothing with this hair-do.)

Next, we moved on to my friend Laura.  She has naturally straight hair, and it's cut short in a bob.  So we thought we had our work cut out for us with her...but it wasn't as hard as it seemed.

We just added fake hair.

One of us bought some strips of fake hair, but it was straight.  So, to make it curly, Laura wrapped a section of the hair around a dowel rod, and boiled it in water for 30 seconds.  Then, she took the hair off the dowel rod and dried it with a blow dryer.

The next step was to put a section of her hair up into a small pony tail, and attach a piece of fake hair already sewn into a clip.

Here it is attached to her hair.

Then, we wrapped a scarf around her hair twice, pinned it in place... 

and used a curling iron to curl the short front and back bits of Laura's hair.

Finally, we pinned some of the short bits of Laura's hair over the well as pinning some of the fake hair up and over the top and sides of her hair.

Here is the final result of Laura's hair-style.

Last, but certainly not least, we moved on to Natalie.  She has short hair just like Laura, so she used artificial hair locks and hair clips too.

We added a ribbon, and used a curling iron... (At times it felt as if an octopus was working on our hair!)

Pinned some of the front pieces in a drapery fashion over the sides...

...added another ribbon and pinned up the back.  The second ribbon was really important, because it held-up the short back bottom pieces of hair.

Finally, Natalie added a couple of "love-lock" from the artificial hair and her look was complete!

And, here we are, after a day of girly fun!  No outfits on, but hair done and ready for the next ball! (I'm playing around with Natalie's hat!)  It was a ton of fun!

There really isn't a method to all of this 1790's hair madness.  Basically, you need lots of curly hair, and some way to get volume to the top of your hair.  Other than that....lots of bobby-pins and hairspray....and you're good to go!

*I'm sorry if some of the pictures are small and grainy looking.....I didn't have time to upload them the good way.  There are over 60 pictures of our fun morning!  If you want a clearer look at them, please visit my photo bucket file!*

Just a Trifle....

My good friend, Laura recently had a birthday.  Tonight, we will be going over to her house to celebrate the occasion.  I'm in charge of bringing the dessert.  I love to bake, and make desserts, so this wasn't a problem, but what WAS a problem was finding the time to make the dessert.  So, I decided to try my hand at a Trifle.  It really is just a "small, trivial thing" to make.  I didn't follow any particular recipe.  I just used what I thought would be good together.  Chocolate Brownies, Chocolate Pudding, Raspberries, and home-made Whipped Cream.   You can really use any kind of sponge cake, any flavor of pudding, and leave out the berries or substitute another kind if you want.  Also, a bit of shaved chocolate might be a nice touch....I didn't have any on hand.

So, basically, what you do is, wash the berries, bake the brownies (I used a box mix), make a couple boxes of chocolate pudding, and mix up the whipped cream.  I don't like store bought "Cool-Whip", and home-made whipped cream is so easy to make. Just blend together a cup of heavy whipping cream with two tablespoons of sugar until it turns fluffy, and there you have it! 

Easy as 1, 2, 3 (and 4)!

Next, in a clear glass bowl, break up some of the brownies and line the bottom of the bowl.

Cover with a layer of chocolate pudding.

Add some of the whipped cream and raspberries.

Repeat the process two more times, and you have your self an easy and very pretty little dessert called a Trifle!

I can't wait to dig in!

Monday, August 23, 2010

School Days...adventures in preschool-land

Yes....that's my daughter, Jane, being swallowed-up by a life sized Hello Kitty backpack, and looking longingly at the playground behind the fence. (She picked out the backpack herself.)

  You see, even though I would LOVE to be able to stay home and home school my Jane, I am not blessed with that option at the moment.  So, I teach art to 4th, 5th and 6th graders at a large private Christian School, and my daughter has always had to go to some sort of day care.  When she was a newborn, and toddler, she went to a lady who watched a few kids from her home.  Last year, as a two year old, she went to a small daycare at a local church.  But, this year, she's 3 years old, and that means she's old enough to attend MY school's preschool.

How can such a little-bitty thing be old enough for school? 
(She LOVES her backpack!)

We had the chance to attend an open house on Friday and meet the teacher and the other children that are in her class.  One of the first things she set to work doing was "playing house."
....taking care of the babies....

...and sweeping the floor....

The next thing she went for was Mr. Potato that's MY girl!...going for the 'retro' toys! 

We had a nice time at the open house, and Jane was actually sad to leave with the prospect of so many new toys.  I finally convinced her that she would be back many, many times and have ample opportunities to play with the toys.

This morning, we got ready for the BIG DAY.......the FIST DAY OF SCHOOL.....
....and here's how the day progressed.....

Jane started off SUPER excited about wearing the school uniform.  Who wouldn't be excited about wearing a cardigan, a pleated skirt and knee socks! (though I'm not too keen on the polo...)

And when I say SUPER excited, I mean it....she would barely hold still long enough for a picture.

All the way to the car and while we were driving to school, this adorable ear-to-ear grin was plastered on her face, as she giggled and talked excitedly about going to her new school.....wearing her new backpack, of course.

And then we entered the school....and the excited smile faded fast to a VERY nervous one....but, there was still a smile none-the-less.  Momma was trying hard to hold it together, and I really do think that Jane parted on much more agreeable terms than I did.  We put her lunchbox and backpack on the hook labeled with her name, and I sent her on her way.

Well, I fretted and worried all day long........imagining the worse.....

When it was time to leave work, I hurried out of there as fast as I could, and fumed over the fact that I caught every red light between my campus and hers (the grade levels I teach, and her preschool are on different sides of town).

I finally got there and found her in the one place she had been talking most about for the past few days....the play ground.

She was at the sand table, already making friends with the boys...ahem... and when she saw me, she announced (as you can see by the exasperated facial expression and hand gesture) that I "wasn't allowed to come and get her when she was in the middle of playing with the sand."

Even though she appeared to be having fun, her pony-tails were drooping, her cute little knee socks were down around her ankles, her shirt was soaked down the front with water (from using the water fountain, I later found out), and there were dark circles under her eyes.  It had OBVIOUSLY been a very LONG day.

I finally coaxed her out of the playground, and was able to talk to the teacher before we left.  The teacher is very sweet, and complimented Jane, but also told me that it had been a rough afternoon for her.  The morning was lovely, she said, but I guess with all of the excitement and new-ness of the place, Jane hadn't eaten much for lunch, and had had trouble falling asleep at nap-time.....not a horrible day....not cotastrophies at least.... but the results being a very hungry and tired little girl.  I'm sure she will sleep good tonight.  I asked her about her day, and she pouted and grumped and said she couldn't talk about it..... :-\ 

So, we made our way home, both of us feeling a little strained from a long day of worrying.

But, almost immediately after entering the house, Jane transformed from the exhausted, downhearted, sad little school girl..... 

....into a free, delighted little princess!  She put on one of what she calls her "princess dresses" (it's really just an old camisole), and twirled......

....and spun.....

...and ran....

...and danced....and giggled....
....feeling the freedom of finally being at home.

Friday, August 20, 2010

It's here!

It's here!  It's here! 
Today I came home from a VERY long first week back at school, and I found three packages on my doorstep.  Getting fabric in the mail is like getting a Christmas present!'s like an early birthday present.  My birthday is in early October, and I can never seem to wait until my husband let me pick out some fabric "as an early birthday gift" for the Regency era white gown, and Pelisse/Robe/Coat that I am planning on making for myself.

Good fabric isn't cheap, but I managed to find some on sale for my coat and when all was said and done, the cost of my coat will be MUCH cheaper than if I were to buy one in the store.  And for the gown, it will only cost me about $30 in the end.  Not bad, if I must say so myself.

I purchased the fabric for my gown at Dharma Trading Co.  It's a beautiful white cotton lawn.  If feels so light, airy, and soft to the touch....I'm sure I will feel like I'm floating in a cloud when I wear it. 

I don't know exactly how I will make my gown yet, but I'm researching a few ideas.  I am really drawn to the white gown the wife in this painting is wearing.  It's by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, and is a detail of Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck (WHAT a name, huh!) with his Wife and Children, 1801-02.  I like the simplicity of the gown, and I think it will look nice alone, or under an open robe.  I might, in the future, make a soft, pale, colored petticoat to go underneath the gown.

Here, again, is a close up image of the Muse for my Pelisse/Robe....the coat on the left. (I'm still not sure what to call it...there is so much debate about how a Robe differs from a Pelisse.)  Most likely, I will start with the Sense and Sensibility Pelisse pattern, but will alter and re-draft it to get the look I want.

And here is the color combination that I chose for my Pelisse.  The cream colored fabric will be used for the lining in the sleeves and bodice.  The dove gray colored fabric will be used for the facing of the bodice (around the collar area).  And the blue-green-gray colored fabric will be the main part of the Pelisse.

The lining is a silk/wool blend from Burnley&Trowbridge.  The wool makes it slightly heavy, and will be warmer than pure silk, but the silk aspect makes it nice and slick....for that easy 'on-off' capability.

The facing is from Trim-Fabric, and is 100% cotton velvet.  It feels soooooo soft!  I can't even describe the way it feels on your's nothing even remotely like synthetic velvet.  It's a dream!  I could just roll around in the stuff, it feels so good! It says on the website that it is a "beige" color, but it isn't.  It's more like a dove-gray, or mousy-brown/gray...but I like the color that it actually is better than what they said it was. 

For the main part of the Pelisse, I chose a beautiful, light-weight, 100% "serge" wool from Burnley&Trowbridge. It's not scratchy, at all, like you might think wool would be.  It's quite soft.  I would highly recommend Burnley & Trowbridge for wools and linens, especially if you are purchasing them for reenacting and want something that is period correct.  The people that run the company are extremely friendly and helpful, and the fabric is very high quality, without being budget-busting expensive. 

On a slightly side note: I would recommend getting swatches of any fabric you are thinking about buying, it will save you a lot of tears in the end. Most big (and even some small) fabric companies will let you purchase swatches for next to nothing. I actually ordered swatches of all of the fabric you are seeing in this post, and I was very glad that I did. My original choices, when looking on line, weren't at all what I thought they would be, and I ended up going with something completely different.  It's lovely to be able to feel the thickness, texture and elasticity of the fabrics you are purchasing BEFORE you actually purchase them.  Also, the colors that show up on your computer monitor aren't always true to the source.

This picture just makes me so excited about starting this project....all of the colors and textures and drape of fabric all mixed together.... *sigh*  With all of the crazy-busy-ness of school now, I only hope that I can actually work on these projects any time soon.  Maybe...just maybe.... by the time my actual birthday comes around I will be able to say this early birthday present is ready to be 'unwrapped'.  Until then, I will be content just feeling and looking at all of this beautiful that weird?