November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, and our '7th Annual Early New England Christmastide at the Old Brown Cape' Photo Gallery~

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Our annual 
'Early New England Christmastide at the Old Brown Cape' photo gallery~
will be up on our website on Thanksgiving evening~
We're having a quiet day at home on Thanksgiving with our yorkie girls. We'll be working on getting our 7th annual 'Early New England Christmastide at the Old Brown Cape' photo gallery up on our website for the big debut at about 6 PM---We think we've taken some glorious photos of our Christmas season here in our old home.
This photo was taken today, the day before Thanksgiving---A perfect picture postcard day~
Inside, all is cozy.

We'll have a fire in the 'main room' fireplace and eat at our 17thc. refectory table only by candlelight, just the 2 of us.
We decided to cook our special meal together, and that it would be something we like way better than turkey. When we found the last couple of lamb shanks on sale at the store, we knew we had to have them. The store almost never even sells them for some unknown reason, and we love, love, love them. We're slow baking them in red wine, beef stock,  a bit of brown sugar, herbs, and garlic among other things, and serving them sitting regally on a mound of our favorite mashed potatoes---an 18thc. recipe that includes onion, bacon, nutmeg, parsley, and chives in it.
Yum!
We'll make a nice green salad of baby romaine with some fresh orange pieces in it as well as toasted almonds, dried cranberries, pomegranate, onion, and topped with a simple homemade dressing of my own creation, a delicious concoction of olive oil, an egg yolk, fig balsamic vinegar, pomegranate juice, and a smidge of honey...
For dessert we decided to make  our own quick and easy take on an English Bakewell Tart.

For a starter,  this morning I've already made the best, most creamy and delicious homemade chicken liver pate ever, and we'll have it tomorrow afternoon on warm slices of crusty home baked artisan bread.
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Later I'll be making stock with the lamb bones, and a large pot of homemade Scotch Lamb-Barley soup, and freezing some. This will be supper for us for at least 4 or 5 days. I am also making my delicious homemade 'Apple Hearth Bread'---a long-time favorite I've been making for more years than I want to say, and a savory, salty-sweet bread that has apples and olive oil in it along with a touch of honey and coarse salt all over the olive oil glazed top. This will be eaten with the soup for upcoming dinners.
We wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving no matter what your plans, and hope that you will visit our website tomorrow evening and step back in time, sharing an old fashioned New England Christmastide in our 18thc. home with us~

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*(Our annual Christmastide Gallery is only up until December 27th. We change our galleries periodically to reflect our 'historical' life and adventures~)
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 You can always take an updated tour of our period home HERE
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Visit us and take a tour of our period home HERE~


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***'INTERNET VERMIN' UPDATE,
 JANUARY 10, 2015~
Today I received a comment on my blog from "LAURIE", hiding behind an anoymous, blank profile of course. It was a scurrilous personal attack---vicious, and a pack of lies. She also went so far as to add that since I have shared some aspects of my personal life and struggles, I deserved what I got, and that she (and everyone) had the right to say whatever they wanted to about that. This is patently ridiculous and will not be tolerated. Clearly "Laurie" has mental/emotional issues, is very jealous, and quite obsessive. Everything I have already said on this subject I have said when I  wrote the first post.  My rules for commenters have always been stated in the sidebar of my blog.  I have been aware that far from being an isolated incidence, 'haters' like Laurie are all too common out there, leaving their poisonous 'letter bombs' on blogs all over the place.

After receiving the nasty piece of work from "Laurie",  I read a post on another woman's blog about this very subject. I have included HER rules for the readers of her blog. I agree with all of them, and now that it seems necessary to have them, they are mine as well....
***PLEASE SEE THIS FORMER POST I WROTE TO READ THE REST OF THIS UPDATE. 
_______________________________________________

...And then I got the letter below that was emailed to me and made my day! Thank you Midori!

"Dear Mrs. Spencer,

I discovered your blog a few days ago and have not been successful in
publishing a comment...and then it occurred to me that I could send you
an email!  Brilliant!

Thank you for your beautiful blog.  I am just enchanted by it.  Your
home, your teas, your sweet little doggies, your 18th century
adventures, your love story and your joy with life is just pure
delight!  I am all admiration!  You are such a beautiful inspiration to
me!  Thank you.

My warmest wishes for all good things to you and your good husband and
your dear little dogs.

With all my Admiration,

Midori Hanus

(in Washington state)"

 _______________________________________________

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Clipper-Merchant-TEA-HOUSE/93695815788
A NICE SUPRISE...
I WAS VERY SUPRISED TO SEE MYSELF AS THE HEADER PHOTO ON THE CLIPPER MERCHANT TEA HOUSE FACEBOOK PAGE HERE~
...And someone I don't know included me in their review of the Tea House when we were there for high tea, at TRIP ADVISOR as well! 

November 9, 2014

High Tea, 'bangers and mash', 18thc. finery, a video of us period dancing, and a picture gallery of a very special day~


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We were asked by our friends, owners of the wonderful Clipper Merchant Tea House in Limerick Maine to come and be a part of the Limerick annual 'Snowflake Trail' event on Friday, Nov. 7th. They asked that we come have tea in our 18thc. clothes and talk to the guests, pose for pictures for them,  and then do a period dance later across the road in the 1803 ballroom in the Custom House Antiques Gallery.
 
Here is a video of us dancing 'The Gay Gordons' in the 1803 ballroom. 
We did it over 5 times that day for several groups of people.
*(The kind lady who filmed this apologized for the voices---Those were the spectators commenting!)
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We now have a gallery of photos of our fantastic day up on our website. We hope you will enjoy visiting and seeing all our photos of the day while you listen to the period musick piece we danced to, 'Scotland the Brave'~
THE GALLERY is only on our website, and only for a short time~
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Visit the gallery HERE or at a link above~
**NOTE~This gallery will only be up a short time. The next gallery will be our 7th annual 'Early New England Christmastide at the Old Brown Cape.'
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______________________

COMING TO OUR WEBSITE ON THANKSGIVING NIGHT AT 6 PM~ 
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October 15, 2014

A 17thc. 'guest bedchamber'~

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A box we made from period wood to hide the laptop! See more about this below~

We have finally been able to get around to DIY (of course) re-making one upstairs room in our 18thc. cape into a most snug and welcoming "guest bedchamber"---(aka computer room, sewing room, etc.)  This room was the pits when I was alone and bought the 1700's house 16 years ago, but so was the entire house. There was a seemingly endless list of priority 'to do's' before I could ever consider working on it.
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The window we put in ourselves in the 'new' old bed chamber. The lantern is old,  delightfully crooked and rusty. It was a $17. 'find'. We electrified it.

Because early capes are a story and a half, the 2 upstairs rooms have short knee-walls and charming sloped ceilings. The larger, which I always knew would be the 'guest chamber' went up in a peak, following the roofline. The original hewn beams added a lot of character and warmth. Unfortunately, someone in the 50's or 60's had covered the entire room with that nasty 1 inch thick, 8 inch wide board knotty pine paneling that seems to have been the rage back then, and a 'country look' to some well-meaning but warped minds. The boards glowed with the golden light of the hideous shiny varnish slathered all over them, calling attention to each and every knot. There was also awful, dirty, once-cream wall to wall carpeting on the floor. That was ripped up early on when all 3 of my fireplaces had to be rebuilt from underground to new chimney.
I had hoped to just have the original old floorboards, and although they were there, as is so often the case in early houses in New England they were pretty wonky and uneven, and worse, there were big patches here and there of funky pieces of 'modern' wood. Yankees used pieces of whatever was around---ugly old painted doors, etc.
---A new pine floor would have to be laid, and left unfinished to age .
Back in 1999, I painted the knotty pine paneling off-white, and had to content myself with that for many years until this room could be moved up on the priority list. (So virulent was the varnish, that even with 4 or so coats of KILZ primer and multiple coats of a good paint, the knots still 'bled' through.)

In the sloped ceiling, on the back of the house in this room was a fairly recently installed skylight, adding lovely light to a room that had only one window, at the gable end. It was nice enough and did not leak, so I kept that. 

Fast forward many years. Something HAD to be done with that "upstairs room". Adam and I painstakingly tore down every board of that knotty pine paneling a couple years ago, then hauling every one to the dump. This was a grueling job. The boards were over-nailed, as if someone expected a typhoon to blow through. Mouse poop would fall on our heads from the nether  regions between insulation and the boards. It was a miserable job.

I won't go into every remodeling detail here. We envisioned a period room, done in the 17thc. style we both love, and our efforts of the past couple of months have exceeded our expectations!
As usual, we had our stash of free salvaged/garbage picked materials.
It has been a lot of hard work. We've removed and rebuilt a window casing, installing a dream leaded glass casement window in that gable wall. I have hand plastered the entire room, and all boards and beautiful beams are exposed.
I have just now finished 'aging' the walls, and they look mellow and authentic. We love them so much, I have now also done it in our own bedroom downstairs.

We came up with an ingenious way to hang rods for bed curtains on a sloped ceiling, and I made the hangings from bittersweet-orange wool.
A lucky 'find' was the headboard only of a 17thc. bed.
Someone gave us 2 thick 18thc. boards, and even though we had never done anything like it before, we made the bed rails and bottom posts from it ourselves, even managing to match the finish on the ancient headboard!

We were able to get new, 12 inch wide pine boards for a bargain, and we laid the floor ourselves, face-nailing each board with reproduction rosehead nails, and then beating it with antique iron chains to distress it. (It will 'wear' and age over time and look like those we put in our kitchen a couple years ago.)

There were many other things we creatively came up with and then worked hard to create the upstairs dream room, and it was done without spending very much money at all.

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UPDATE, NOVEMBER 4~
We have now completely finished our room and the photos are up on the TOUR page of our website.


We wove a wattle shutter for the skylight ourselves, even cutting down every sapling to do it! The shutter is hinged at the top of the skylight with period iron hinges and swings up and out as a cage bar would, hooking onto the ceiling just opposite when not in use.
This is one of our favorite things, and looks "so medieval, I love it!", as Adam says.
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SEE OUR FINISHED 'GUEST BEDCHAMBER' HERE~

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SEE MORE OF OUR PROJECT HERE~
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TAKE A TOUR OF OUR PERIOD HOME HERE~
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July 17, 2014

'The great 17thc. outdoor beehive bakeoven-building experience'---A summertime adventure to remember~

THE BACK YARD 'PILGRIM BAKE OVEN PROJECT'

WE HAVE BUILT AN AUTHENTIC PERIOD-STYLE COB 'BEEHIVE' BAKE OVEN IN OUR BACK GARDEN. THE TWO OF US BUILT OUR OVEN WITH NO MONEY, USING HISTORICALLY CORRECT MATERIALS FROM OUR OWN PROPERTY, THINGS WE HAD OR HAD SALVAGED MONTHS OR YEARS BEFORE,  AND CLAY THAT WE DUG UP ON OUR LAND. 
We decided to build our own period-correct (17thc. style) cob bake oven in our back garden similar to one at Plimoth Plantation~
This project was not about money; it was about keeping the 'old ways' alive by making something with your own 2 hands, and investing hours and days or weeks in something worthwhile to enjoy and to remember, and to recreate a little bit of the past of our ancestors.
The biggest allure of the project was not only anticipation of wonderful homemade food we'll make in it, but the fact that we did every bit of it ourselves, and with materials we already had, had salvaged, or dug up ourselves,---Just like the first-comers at Plimoth. 
We have used our own resources, as well as all of our own best efforts.
We're pretty proud of what we have done, especially since we had never done anything like this before.
It was great to learn new skills but most of all it was like taking a trip back in time to recreate something our pilgrim ancestors made. 

***(SEE MORE ON OUR 'PROJECTS GALLERY PAGE' OF OUR WEBSITE~
WE NOW HAVE THE~
  'BIG REVEAL' PHOTOS OF OUR FINISHED COB BAKE OVEN ON OUR WEBSITE.

We've had a blast building our oven~ 
WE APPRECIATE HEARING FROM THOSE OF YOU WHO VISIT OUR WEBSITE---
SO MANY PEOPLE DON'T TAKE THE TIME OR TROUBLE TO EMAIL COMPLIMENTS, BUT TO ALL WHO DID, AND WHO LOVED VISITING OUR STEP-BY-STEP PHOTO GALLERY OF OUR ADVENTURE WHEN IT WAS UP, WHO WERE GOB-SMACKED BY OUR EFFORTS AND OUR OVEN,
~THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR KIND WORDS~WE APPRECIATE YOUR COMMENTS SO VERY MUCH.
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*(The step-by-step photos from our
have been taken down now
but see us bake pizza in our oven! Photos are now up on our website~
***( Our galleries are up for a limited time. They change periodically to reflect our 17th/18thc. life and adventures).

April 17, 2014

Who doesn't love a cute dog?

A very early spring day. The sun is shining, but it's cold and everything is still...brown, ugh. Miraculously though, all the mountains of snow that half-covered our windows this winter are gone, and I have spied green shoots popping through the dirt here and there.
I have no car.
Among other things, our two yorkies have a "pet stroller"---Yeah, a pet stroller. It is quite marvelous, really.
I had to walk up the hill to the town hall and the post office on this early spring day. The yorkies go with us most places in a front-pack, on leash, or bike carrier.
This is just a little too far for tiny little legs to hoof it there and back, and when Adam is not here, I can't squeeze both of them into one front-pack.
Adam has always called our girls "the ambassadors of peace and goodwill" because of the smiling attention they draw from everyone, wherever we go.
This cold spring day was no exception, and people came out from behind the counter at both stops to pet and coo at them.
It's a tiny town. Everyone knows them and loves them.
They really do make everyone feel a little bit happier.
I had the camera with me and snapped a few photos while on our errand.
Is there anything more cheering than a pet that loves you?

Who doesn't love a cute dog?











 We love you, guys---You're the best~