November 9, 2014

High Tea, 'bangers and mash', 18thc. finery, and period dancing~
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.  
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~We change our galleries periodically to share many of our 17th/18thc. life and adventures.

October 15, 2014

A 17thc. 'guest bedchamber'~ 
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.
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.
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.



July 17, 2014

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


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. 


We've had a blast building our oven~ 

*(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).

January 4, 2014

Friday night in the deep freeze

It is "wicked cold heah", as some locals would say.
It is and has been well below zero. Heating fuel is astronomical, and so we are not warm.  I have never seen it so bad---We normally do not get long periods of weather this cold at a stretch.
We are cold all the time---You spend money for the fuel you expect to last for a couple months at least, and you are not even warm---You simply can't afford to crank up the heat to a comfy 65 or 66, and even so the fuel is gone in a month. Everyone I have talked to in New England and the midwest is complaining of the same thing.

Sparkling snow is a couple feet deep around the houses in the neighborhood with piles up to, or covering a bit of the windows of some. Intricate designs in frost and ice decorate the old panes of our window glass. Deep winter is here and we are in the midst of a rare and bitter deep freeze.

We are wearing layers of fleece and heavy wool socks as always. I can't enjoy the sun, if shining, because I have closed the interior wood shutters in the rooms that have them, in an effort to conserve every drop of fuel. Morale was pretty low yesterday, and I decided I would suprise Adam with a lovely roast chicken dinner cooked in the fireplace. I used the bedroom hearth as we would eat in there, keeping only that room really warm, and be able to watch the TV as well later. I went up to the attic and brought down my 'tin kitchen', or reflector oven, as they are called---designed and made for hearth cooking, this one was made especially for me over 25 years ago by a craftsman in Michigan when I still lived in the midwest.
I have always cooked Thanksgiving turkey in the fireplace, not having done one in the oven in over 25 years as well. I love hearth cooking, and have done it for many years.
I built a "ripping fire" in the fireplace about 2:30 in the afternoon. By 3:30, a good bed of coals lay under the 18thc. andirons, and I kept adding split logs of oak, maintaining a nice even fire.
Ahhhhh......It was so cozy and warm, and so elemental---I was transported back to other long-gone days of our ancestors who had no such creature comforts such as indoor plumbing or any central heat at all, against the chill of a New England winter.

I made roast chicken seasoned on the outside with my own special herb mixture, and stuffed with onion chunks. With the divine smoky drippings, I made a yummy homemade chicken gravy. I made mashed potatoes and homemade fresh cranberry orange relish.
The day before I had made a homemade French apple cream cake, and last evening while the little bird was roasting, I whipped up the most wonderful and easy caramel sauce. For dessert we had the apple cake with the warm caramel sauce drizzled over it.

The bedroom was lit only with a few candles, and the glow from the fireplace. The dinner was fantastic. We shut out the cold and dark, and spent Friday night in our 1686 bed with it's heavy  tapestry curtains, the dogs at the foot, but eyeing the chicken hopefully, and enjoying our hearth-cooked feast.

I served my French Apple Cake with homemade warm caramel sauce~

We laughed until we cried watching old Tim Sample videos on Youtube for the rest of the evening.

December 26, 2013

Breakfast IN pj's and Tiffany, and more of our wonderful Christmas~

 Even after gifts were opened, Deladis couldn't stop checking for more~

This holiday really did surpass our expectations, in all the best possible ways. We had a Christmas chock full of new memories. It was so wonderful, it really did help to banish all the sad, miserable ones of the past few years.
Our promise to each other last year to dress in 18thc. clothing and spend Christmas day, 2013 at an old inn was the best idea we could have had. Yesterday was perfect, and was so much like Christmas day in Colonial Williamsburg on our belated honeymoon there at Christmas, 2007. We couldn't stop smiling.
Adam got home early Christmas Eve. I had the lobster chowder and the homebaked apple hearth bread already made. The dogs were crazy all day jumping around and hopping up on 2 legs to look at the little pile of presents in the 17thc. cradle in our bedroom. I was gob-smacked to see that they seemed to know what was going on, and were just like a couple of children on a sugar high ready to pounce on what Santa brought! I kept telling them we'd "open presents when daddy gets home---Not now, but soon". They sat on the couch in the den with their 'angel wings' on and cocked their heads and looked at me solemnly, giving me the definite feeling they understood every word.
About 4:30, dad was home and showered, and I had lit a fire. The presents were piled on our bed, and the dogs, especially Deladis, were frantic and hyper. Del had whipped herself into such a frenzy that she was panting, and Sasha was doing the 'yorkie honk'. I had to keep rescuing every gift from Del's clawing and chewing! We gave them their presents, and they were off the wall at everything they opened, leaping all over the bed and going crazy when they saw treats. First came the nice warm fleece 'dog pj's' with fashionable cupcake motif.
Below, Del waits in her 'house' for daddy to get home early on Christmas eve.

They like the new 'jammies', but they weren't as popular as Marrow Bones and chew sticks~

Del went crazy with a widewale corduroy 'moose' toy that had 'squeakers' in each limb and the belly, and 'rattles' in the antlers.

There were curly rawhide chews, hair bows, and a big bag of Marrow Bones for our 'kids'. By this time they were exhausted and fairly calm and just laid on the bed watching us open our gifts.

Adam had lost the chronograph watch he'd had for years. We couldn't afford to replace it with our job loss and situation. This year I did a lot of research and reading of reviews, and my 'big' gift to Adam was a fantastic and beautiful on-huge-sale chronograph. He opened it last, and actually had tears in  his eyes. I started to cry when I saw the pure joy on his face.
While I dished up our special Christmas Eve dinner, he sized the band and left it to charge on a lamp upstairs, but he kept running up to look at it.
Last summer I ordered a gift for both of us. A craftsman overseas hand makes wooden plates in the same manner as, and that are exact replicas of those used on Henry VIII's warship, the Mary Rose. He made 2 of them for us, and we received them just before Christmas. I didn't even peek, wrapping the box as soon as it came. The plates are stunning, and just what we wanted. We used them to eat our lobster and cheddar omelette's on Christmas morning! Maybe next year we'll get 2 more.
2 'out-of-round' handmade treen plates are exact copies of those that were used and went down with the Tudor ship, the Mary Rose.
Recently we were lucky to be able to watch the fantastic Brit series 'Tudor Monastery Farm'. If you loved 'Tales From The Green Valley' as much as we did, you'll love this too. Ruth Goodman and Peter Ginn are costumed presenters as they both were in the 'Green Valley' series.
***Update, Jan. 2 2014~We've now seen all 6 episodes of 'Tudor Monastery Farm', and their special Christmas episode! (This series is new, and on Brit TV, and cannot be purchased on dvd.) There is a companion book to the series, now out.
Last summer I put my name on a waiting list for the book, and that too was a Christmas gift this year. We started reading some of it together Christmas morning and it really is a great book.
My dear friend Ken, from Passion for the Past blog wrote a post months ago and talked about another wonderful book, 'The Last Muster'---photos of some of the revolutionary war generation who lived long enough to have their images immortalized in a photograph. I gave this book to Adam for Christmas as well.
I had heard about a 1968 film version of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' that featured Diana Rig, Helen Mirren, and Judi Dench, among other now-famous Brit stars. They were all unknown at the time, and though made on a low budget then, the film has won many awards and was the discovery vehicle for these actresses and actors. I bought a special dvd of the film with high sound quality for us for Christmas, and we have just watched half, and plan to see the rest tonight. It is wonderful~

The dogs were worn out from too much "Christmas excitement"~
There were also a few 'reenactment' goodies for both of us under our tree. I got an 18thc. style linen 'tradesman's apron' for Adam, and I received a long-wanted and very handy 'market wallet' handmade from natural linen. 
I saw a lot of ladies at the last reenactment with 'market wallets' slung over their shoulders. Men like them too.
Adam had already given me the primitive bookrest he had made from 18thc. wood, and we love and have long collected early antiques. We recently lucked into a very old beeskep, and got it as a Christmas present. It now has a home in our buttery.

Another rare and quite wonderful little gift I found for us was the most beautiful Christmas music played by E. Power Bigg and the Columbia Chamber Orchestra. These are very old Christmas carols played in a very haunting and appealing 'Renaissance'-sounding style. Mr. Biggs died in 1977, and this music was only on an LP album. I found one small company that has transferred the album to cd, with marvelous sound quality. They are the only ones selling it. I bought the cd for us. My most favorite song on it is 'The Coventry Carol', which you can hear below.
We plan to listen to the cd in the car on the way down to the Twelfth Night Ball soon!
My 'big' gift was so spectacular I can't yet believe it---Adam had done some research and managed to find a "pre-loved and pre-owned" TIFFANY silver heart toggle necklace. He wanted me to have a really special present. (Everything he has every given me is special though)~
The owner had kept it in pristine 'new' condition, and it gleamed, nestled in it's original Tiffany bags! He secretly took it to a jewelers and had my monogram put on one side in lovely 'Olde English' script, and "My Pea" on the reverse side.
I have a silver heart toggle bracelet (costume copy of course) that I've had for years, and although I have and wear almost no jewelry, I have admired and loved that Tiffany necklace for years. Needless to say I am gob-smacked and in awe, and still kind of floating in a cloud knowing I am now the owner of an actual TIFFANY necklace. Most of all I am touched by the inscriptions and monogram. 
I ate breakfast on Christmas morning wearing polka dot flannel pj's (in 'Tiffany blue' of course), wool socks, and wearing my Tiffany necklace!
The necklace is perfect and pristine~
 Oh my...
Holy cow, Adam, Thank you! 
The fact that you searched and found this and personalized it just for me means the world to me~
Christmas morning breakfast~
I made lobster and Vermont cheddar omelettes and a winter fruit salad. We ate them on our authentic replica, handmade Tudor treen plates. They were delicious~
Upstairs we have a rear skylight in our guest room. On Christmas morning, the trees wore an icy coat, and sparkled like diamonds in the sun. I grabbed the camera and took these pictures looking up out of the skylight...
Christmas day was sunny and very cold. Here icicles hang from our window garlands...

Late in the day we got dressed and drove the 45 minutes to the 18thc. inn near the White Mountains where we had our dinner. It was a beautiful drive and the dinner was the glorious finale to our truly perfect and much appreciated Christmas 2013. There was complimentary eggnog, tea, coffee, and a crystal bowl full of chocolates as well as platters of cookies available to us for munching if we desired, as we waited for the time to come for dinner. We decided to go sit in the cozy little tavern. I never in my life had a martini, but I had been reading recently about Key Lime martinis. Key lime pie is my most favorite, and I decided to try a Key Lime martini then and there on Christmas night at the beautiful inn.
In order to reach the inn, we turned off the highway and immediately crossed a river in this covered bridge.
The inn was warm and welcoming and we soon met some lovely people and were chatting with other guests spending their Christmas there. In awhile they were all taking our pictures with their cell phones and asking for our card and some made plans to be in touch with us. We even met a lovely couple from Scotland on a dream trip to New England.

Dinner was fabulous---beyond all expectations.  I had the beef tenderloin. I have cooked and had beef tenderloin many times in my life---(including my famous Beef Wellington from a recipe given to me by a gentleman from England years ago)---but this was just superlative and melted in your mouth like butter---really spectacular. The mashed potatoes were the best I have ever had. I don't know how they made them. Adam had the prime rib, which was equally world class. We both chose the creme brulee for dessert. Neither of us left one bite on our plates!
(*There were a few little changes to the menu when we got there. The chicken dish was something else that looked even better, and had shrimp in it, and there were different and decadent desserts, shown here.  Everything was just phenomenal~ The price for the dinner was a truly reasonable $35. per person, and that included everything and a lovely starter salad not listed, and tea served with your dessert choice. Only appetizers were extra, and we could never have eaten those and the fabulous dinner too.)
(A choice of dessert is also included in the reasonable fixed price of Christmas dinner~)



The colonial plaques on the wall in the taproom. I made Adam pose with them~

  My first martini. I have wanted to try a Key Lime martini ever since I heard about them. This was fantastic!
 I'll definitely be having this again!
 Cheers, everyone! I hope you all had a very happy Christmas.
We made the best memories this Christmas, and that's the most important thing. We have decided to make an '18th century Christmas' at this inn an annual event for us. We're going to make our dinner reservation for next year~ 
This Christmas was perfect to me. I will never forget it~

 ***UPDATE, FEB. 2015~
The worst has happened today.
Adam got home at 2:30. His company let everyone in his department go without any warning. (The second job loss in 6 years, and utterly miserable "make-do" jobs for several years.)  The new job was a nightmare from the beginning, but Adam busted his butt for those people and they did nothing but treat him like dirt, and I am sure others as well.
Now he has no job, we have no money, and no insurance.
Needless to say we are in shock and devastated beyond endurance. 
For the foreseeable future, I simply haven't the heart to continue writing this blog.