June 28, 2010
I realized when I recently wore my flowered jacket that it was way too big for me, and is now as we speak being taken in considerably. I plan on wearing it to the spectacular reenactment event in Boston this Saturday. I have a lovely iridescent light avocado green silk petticoat that I will wear over my bumroll and a heavy white linen underpetticoat. My sheer white on white embroidered apron goes over the petticoat and the green silk subtly shows through. (THE GREEN PETTICOAT IS MUCH MORE WARM AND VIBRANT THAN SHOWN IN THESE PICTURES.)
I am lacing the jacket over the stomacher with some lovely green silk ribbon to match. I am wearing the cap and the hat shown here. I made the hat, and love the remnant of silk ribbon formed into 3d flowers in multiple shades of the perfect green that I found last year, and used to define the crown of the hat. My new black shoes and my sandalwood fan tied with a green silk ribbon complete my outfit. Here are photos of my ensemble. We are so excited about this event, and can't wait to have a photo gallery up on our website to share with everyone.
June 27, 2010
|We served cookies and homemade rose-water lemonade at our yard sale.|
We had a little impromptu yard sale this weekend, and even though it was unadvertised, we sold lots of things, including an 1840's maple cannon-ball bed made in Amherst, NH that had always been in Adam's family. It had been in the attic, and it was time for it to go to a good home. The buyer, a really nice lady, got it for a song, and was so pleased. I went to the farmer's market around the corner with Deladis in her front pack, while Adam held down the fort. I got strawberries picked this morning, and a RARE AND REAL TREAT---a couple from Maine had big live lobsters for $6.00 a pound! I bought 3, for a special 'clambake for two' tonight.
I am making Adam another of my homemade strawberry pies with the shortbread crust (sorry, this pie recipe is secret!), this evening. He has just put newspaper down on the table in the taproom---the menu for tonight---boiled lobsters with the 'healthy' butter and lemon, fresh ears of sweet corn I got for 19 cents an ear, sliced fresh tomatoes, and another special treat---a cold Newcastle Brown Ale in iced mugs I put in the freezer earlier. We are eating in the classic New England clambake style of cracking our lobster on a newspaper-covered table and digging in, using huge cloth napkins I made. Mmmmmmm, can't wait.
|I had a basket filled with packages of potpourri for sale~|
|Days end...Time for a nice meal in our taproom~|
It is 'Old Home Week' in our tiny New Hampshire village, and a 'big deal' here. It is a bit over a week long celebration chock full of concerts on the lawn, suppers, magic shows, live animal shows, a farmer's market, contests, ice cream socials and more, and culminates in a big 4th of July picnic and fireworks on July 4th.
Yesterday we put the dogs in their front packs, and walked up the hill to the old town hall where they were taking entries in the photography contest. Adam decided to enter this photo of me taken spur of the moment and unplanned, a few weeks ago. We thought it was charming, so I also used it as my blog header photo. It won second prize in the contest! Later, we got cleaned up and went to 'TOWN TURKEY SUPPER' at 5. It is a real homemade turkey dinner with all the 'fixins', served in a community hall, and served family style at tables for 6 or 8. It is an old New England tradition, and is firmly rooted here...It was SO delicious, as always. Poor Adam had a bulging belly, and by 7 last night we were in a tryptophan coma. Ladies in town make all the different pies that are served dessert after the main event, and you can choose from so many it is mind-boggling.
Today is the farmer's market and other neat things. We are going to put the pups in their packs tomorrow night and take them to the jazz concert on the lawn of town hall, then maybe over to the ice cream social on the lawn of 'Victorian House'. Everywhere you go you run into a familiar face, and someone you know to chat with. There is an historical 'walking tour' of our little hamlet, free and open to all, and the knot of walkers always pauses in front of our house, one of the oldest standing homes in town, and gets a little background on it from the leader of the tour. In the 'Old Home Week' newspaper the town puts out, we have circled our 'must-do' events for each day or evening---the hilarious amateur variety show, Simon Brooks, storyteller, the native American pow wow.... And of course, riding our tandem bike to Constitution Park for the fireworks. A Happy 4th of July to all of you. I wish all of you a little of the spirit of New England in your heart, wherever you may be.
June 25, 2010
As many of you know if you visit our website, Adam and I do many historical programs. Our most popular is DRESSING A COLONIAL LADY', which involves me coming only in my 'shift', and Adam helping me to me dress layer by layer in all the elements of a c. 1760 gown. This program has garnered rave reviews and standing room only crowds wherever we go.
I think everyone is amazed and fascinated by what a ladies 18thc 'gown' actually consists of! Everyone seems to be fascinated most of all by my 'stays'---these are NOT a corset, which is a 19th century term, but a fully boned undergarment that produces the flat front and cone shape silhouette, with the breasts high and flattened, and a look, as one source of the period referred to as "two apples on a tray"! Here is just a peek of me in my stays, and my new, black 18th c. shoes. I have the same fantastically beautiful reproduction 18thc. shoes in a 'cream pearl' leather as well.
June 23, 2010
Last night I tried a new recipe. It is simple, fresh, healthy, and our tastebuds were soaring to culinary heaven! This will definitely be a regular summertime supper. We eat almost no red meat, but a nice very lean cut of beef is fine now and then. I am going to share this delight with you~
ROASTED TOMATO GOAT CHEESE SALAD WITH GRILLED BEEF. Adam BBQ'd 2 small, lean fillet steaks on the grill to medium rare. You can then just let them at room temp until dinner. Take 3 good size Brandywine ('ugly') tomatoes, cut them in half, and scoop out the seeds and juicy parts. Throw that away. Chop 3 cloves of FRESH garlic. Toss the tomatoes with the garlic, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Put them on a baking sheet and roast in a 400 oven for about 20 min. Put spring salad mix greens on a platter. top with about 2 ounces of crumbled goat cheese. TO SERVE: Put tomatoes/garlic over the greens. Slice the steaks and put the slices over the tomatoes. Crumble 2 more ounces of goat cheese over all. Now, drizzle with olive oil and some balsamic vinegar.
THIS WAS FABULOUS! I made some whole grain french bread garlic bread using olive oil and roasted garlic to go with it. As you can see from the photo, we lit the candlestick Adam made and sat at the taproom table and had our dinner while the birds sang in the herb garden right outside. Oh! Adam brought fresh local strawberries home from the farmstand and I did make my special strawberry pie in the secret shortbread crust, which we had for dessert.
|My pie, garnished with mint from the herb garden and ready to serve nice and chilled~|
Here are a few photos of our taproom in our 18thc. house~
|As historical reenactors living in an 18thc. house we sometimes dress up in our period clothing and make a meal a special event for two~|
|Here is Adam in the taproom at Christmas. We had an 18thc. Christmas party with friends dressed in their 1700's finery~|
|Take a tour of our 18thc. house and period gardens HERE~|
June 22, 2010
She is much smaller in person than I imagined. I am not a big woman---I stand 5 feet and 4 inches, and I towered over her. I could not say even a word before she spoke to me, and I remember to this day each and every word she said: "Excuse me, I just want to tell you that you are a beautiful woman, and I love your coat and hat". Needless to say, I was gob-smacked. Her voice was soft and her speech precise. I barely got out "Thank you Miss Tudor", when she took her son's arm, turned, and was gone. I had been wearing my greenish-brownish oilcloth Australian outback coat, with it's short capelet, and the matching hat. I hardly thought of my 'dog-tired-from-driving-and setting-up-self' as fashionable or attractive, by any description. What a sweet memory it is. An unexpected, gracious compliment from a very special lady....
|Tasha Tudor went to the big antique shows in Nashville every year for many years, and I would see her on occasion, shopping for antiques, and always dressed in proper ladies' clothing of the 1840's...|
Today, my dooryard roses are in spectacular, lush, abundant bloom, and I am distilling them in a laborious effort to glean a few cups of precious rosewater---a process involving hours, every ice cube I can make, pots, a heavy brick from the garden, and running back and forth from stove to sink. Oh the smell! My little 18thc. 'cape' is redolent with the scent of roses. I use the rosewater to make homemade pink lemonade with for a special summer occasion, or if friends may happen by. I cut some of my lavender flowers, grind it to powder, and make homemade lavender cookies to serve with it. It is a summer tradition---my very own. What a joy to sit by a sunny window, listen to the babbling brook, and have the rosewater lemonade and the cookies made with my own drying lavender, hearing so many songbirds and the buzzing of bees just outside...
....And then there is PUPPY LOVE. We recently helped a friend in need, and she gifted us with a newly born 'yorkie' puppy, we named Deladis. We have had her now 4 weeks, and at almost 10 weeks old, she is such a funny, sweet, affectionate, and energetic ball of fur---That's her photo above! We are training her and it is going pretty well. A serendipitous and unexpected gift , she is our newest girl---2 pounds of pure cuteness and love.
All are welcome at Boston Harborfest, and to watch all of us at the 18thc. Landing of the British reenactment on Boston Common, as well as our march through the streets of downtown Boston, to the wharf. We will board the ship Liberty, and sail, landing at the custom's house to thousands of tourists and press.
June 21, 2010
I debated writing this because on one hand I felt so deeply in my heart that I wanted to thank so many people all over who have the past few years written to me about our website, www.thecountryladyantiques.com and about Adam and me, and our life. (I am amazed that there are over eight thousand visits to the site A MONTH!) I knew that to really understand how much their kind words have meant to me they would have to know a little bit of my story. I felt that I didn't want to bore anyone, or come across as someone who was whining or self pitying, because I am none of those things... I was the widow of a suicide in 1998 when I moved alone from Illinois to New Hampshire in a wreck of an ancient van, with my dog Phoebe---"my partner on the big adventure of our lives"--- and very little else save a heart full of hope. (My husband, though undiagnosed until after death, suffered from severe hereditary bi-polar disorder).
I knew that the deck was stacked against me, but I was so determined that I had to TRY to rebuild a life---that I could not let what had happened to me be my legacy. I have always been upfront about what happened to me when speaking to someone, because I felt that maybe they were opportunities to give some measure of comfort or hope to someone in a bad situation.
This little cape was the pits when I bought it---a real mess. I came 1000 miles, and didn't know anyone here. I had minimal construction skills, and even less money. Within 3 weeks of living here, I painted a 'faux' parchment on the hall wall and on it wrote this quote: "I have made a connection with the flow of time. Life's greatest joys come not on the fast track, but along a rugged road, slowly and simply. Just as this precious house passed into my hands, so it will pass into others when I am gone, and while it is mine it envelops me, sheltering and comforting me." Then, "Mary bought this house September 19, 1998."
Though the hall has been repainted, that 'faux' parchment remains.
I worked for the next 8 years alone, day and night, (while keeping a small open antique shop and doing shows), restoring the house, and making it my home as best I could.
I met Adam in due time, in the MOST amazing way---like something from a movie---but that is a story for another day! We married a little over 3 years ago in an authentic 18thc. wedding. We are "the 2 peas in the pod". He is the other half of me. He literally walked into my life, and never in my wildest imagination could I ever have believed that something like it would ever happen to me, or that we would be so in love with each other, and with all of the same things.
Our passion for the past, for history, for simplicity and joy in it's most basic form---these are just a few of the things that bond us here and now, and will forever.
I was alone a long time. There was a lot of loneliness, fear, being flat broke, and trying, trying every day, never ever allowing myself to give up--- having a 15 minute cry and moving on....
We live here in the tiny house I took on those long years ago. We have no fancy 'toys', no cell phones, credit cards, etc. Our cars are elderly, and we get around town a lot on our bicycle-built-for-two. The things that surround us are our memories---they represent a lot of sacrifice, but more than that, they are a reminder not only of a past long gone, but of happy days together, finding a treasure now and then... so, I guess what I really want to say to those of you who have written or left comments, is THANK YOU.
Thank you for your uplifting words on a bad day. Thank you for sharing a piece of our lives with us. Thank you most of all for being friends. Though we may never meet, the warmth and sincerity you have expressed means more to us than you will ever know. In my heart, you are all sitting at my table, eating homemade treats and having tea with me from the "NO STAMP ACT TEAPOT" !
June 20, 2010
We had a most wonderful time at the event yesterday, despite the 90 degree temps. There was plenty of shade and a breeze off the Kennebec river.
A lot of the public came to this 250th anniversary of Lincoln County, and they had a very moving ceremony under a tent on the lawn during the day. The lunch I made tasted fantastic, as we sat in the shade of a large tree and ate while talking to a lot of the spectators who came. People were hanging over our shoulders hoping for samples! I won't put a lot of photos here, as we just put up a whole gallery of pictures on our website.
I must now tell you that we arrived home about 5:30 PM hot and hungry. I am sure you all know what it feels like to have to cook dinner when you have been out all day, and are dog tired. We don't go out a lot, or eat any fast food, so I made one of my quick, healthy, and delicious recipes after we got our stuff all put away. It is the most divine pizza---a food I normally would not eat because the 'usual' is full of fat, calories, and 'bad stuff'. Here is my recipe, in case you would like to try it.
Take a store bought WHOLE GRAIN PIZZA CRUST. I personally use only 'FABULOUS FLATS MULTIGRAIN STONE BAKED PIZZA CRUST, found in the grocery stores. Preheat oven to 425 while you fix it. Spread the crust with 1 small package of goat cheese. Saute fresh mushrooms in a little olive oil. Use SHITAKES, WOOD EAR, AND BABY BELLA. Put them on top of cheese. Saute FRESH BABY SPINICH (the bag kind in the produce dept.) in the same pan until wilted, and add a couple spoonfuls of minced, FRESH ROASTED GARLIC FROM A JAR. I then chop a peeled tomato. Top the pizza with the cooked spinich and the chopped tomato, and finally grate only about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of FRESH PARMESAN over all. Bake for 20 min. and YUM! We sat at the table by the window in the taproom and had this with some tall glasses of iced tea, and relaxed and re-lived or fabulous day.
June 17, 2010
It has been a warm but grey, drizzly day here---a good day to make some of the food for our picnic lunch at the reenactment this weekend. The sky is just now starting to lighten up, and the sun promises to make an appearance late in the day. Tomorrow, and the rest of the weekend are to be hot and sunny, so we are very happy to be able to go to this reenactment in Maine, and not be rained out like last weekend! Here are a few photos just taken in our yard. This little chipmunk was sitting on our stone wall methodically eating all our strawberries. The other photo is of the hat and gown I will be wearing on Saturday.
YUM! I just finished my lunch, and it was SO GOOD. I toasted a whole wheat english muffin. I topped each half with a few pieces of smoked salmon (the BEST--- 'DUCKTRAP OF MAINE SMOKED SALMON TRIMS'). Slice a half of an avocado, and place the slices on top of the salmon. Squirt with a bit of fresh lemon, salt and pepper. I had some fresh made ice tea with some mint from the herb garden, and ate while the large shrimp I cooked were chilling. I have peeled them, so here is the recipe for the MOST delicious summer main dish salad!
SHRIMP-WATERMELON-AVOCADO SALAD~ one pound of cooked peeled and chilled large shrimp. One half of a good size watermelon, cut into cubes, 1/4 or 1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced, 2 avocados, cut into cubes, some sliced KALAMATA black olives, the juice of one fresh lime, a tsp. or 2 of raw honey, a few twirls of olive oil, salt and pepper, cilantro (I like to use the fresh that comes in a tube in the produce dept.) Mix everything together. Chill.
I already have the grapes and the blueberry stilton packed in a ziploc in the fridge for our dessert, plus some 'intense orange', VERY dark chocolate for an extra treat for Adam. I have some great whole grain flatbread with pumpkin seeds in it as well. We are so looking forward to this reenactment, and I will be posting a report on Monday.
In the world of 18thc reenacting, the large shallow-crown straw hats we wear at summer events are a must. I have been at many a reenactment in shift, stays, underpetticoat, petticoat, gown, cap, etc., when it was 90 degrees and more. The hats, and the fans most of we ladies carry are used and appreciated, as we silently sweat in our lovely but restrictive clothing.
I have designed and made every one of my hats. I began receiving questions and compliments at every reenactment we attended, and so began creating one of a kind hats for some of the other ladies. I am available to design and decorate a straw hat to match any of milady's gowns. I have added such whimsical touches to mine as dragon flies, birds and nests, and ribbon I 'ruche' myself. They are always understated and elegant however, and never gaudy. I will periodically put hats I have created for sale in the sidebar of this blog.
If anyone is interested in a custom hat to match your ensemble, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
June 16, 2010
|These photos were taken at a party at our home. Our reenactor friends came in period dress, and I cooked the meal in the fireplace.|
I have eaten only 'healthy' for quite a long time now. Aside from some meals for company, and the treats I always make for Adam, we eat simple, innovative, and very healthy meals using a lot of fresh ingredients. I do not visit the center aisles of supermarkets, and do not eat sugar, white flour, white rice, white bread or pasta, butter, 'processed', or high fat foods. I never eat chips or drink 'soda pop' (yuk!), yet if you ate my cooking, you would not know you were eating food that was "good for you".
This is not 'twigs and bark' cooking folks. Most of the time I serve our guests our 'favs', and they always clean their plates and ask for recipes! I cook with and eat only whole grain pasta, whole grain breads, brown rice, olive oil, non fat Greek yogurt, lite soy milk, whole grain oat flour and almond meal flour, lots of fish, low fat cheeses, and almost no red meat. These things are just a few of the staples I always have on hand. Oh, don't turn up your noses and think, "ewwwww".
For instance, brunch last Sunday was homemade, whole grain pancakes topped with a topping I make combining Sorrento 'Velvety Smooth' ricotta, a bit of RAW honey, fresh grated lemon peel and vanilla---then fresh strawberries, sliced and sweetened with a touch of raw honey, spooned over all.
Another favorite is my scrambled eggs and canadian bacon on top of a whole wheat, toasted english muffin, with my FAUX HOLLANDAISE, which is actually absolutely delicious. We like it better than the butter/egg stuff that is so greasy and bad for you! You simply cut up a yellow pepper into chunks and cove and microwave for 2 min. or so. Drain, and put into a blender with about 1/3 cup of LITE cream cheese, a tablespoon or so of fresh squeezed lemon juice, and a tsp. or so of dijon mustard, a bit of sea salt & fresh pepper. Blend in blender and reheat in micro to serve. Keeps well in 'fridge. We just had this the other night with fresh artichokes steamed with tamari and garlic, and grilled salmon.
I do make all sorts of homemade treats, and am known for my pies, but I do not normally eat them. Adam, his co-workers at school, and friends are the grateful recipients of the art-form desserts I have been making for years. (I will make an exception, and have one small piece of the fresh strawberry pie when I make it)
As mentioned previously, I am making my SHRIMP-WATERMELON-AVOCADO salad, to take to the reenactment this weekend for our lunch. (I PROMISE THIS RECIPE LATER) We will have this along with crispy, whole grain flat bread, and then fresh grapes with blueberry stilton cheese, one of our favorite summer desserts.
June 15, 2010
Here are some photos of a few memorable simple meals at home. I have been a serious and joyful cook most of my life, and it seems friends have always asked me for my recipes. Most, at least right now, are 'secret'. I look at pictures I have of the tables set in my taproom or keeping room, or dining room, and I remember each day...in every season~
The day we had my cold watermelon soup when it was so hot...The day I made the elegant 18thc picnic that we ate, in 18thc clothing, on a linen cloth at Prescott Park on the ocean in Portsmouth to celebrate our second anniversary... The 17thc 'Pilgrim Dinner' I cooked in the fireplace... So many wonderful meals and wonderful days and nights!
Every June I make my very special fresh strawberry pie, with a secret 'shortbread' pie crust very different from any other, and with only locally grown berries, usually that we pick ourselves. It is a slice of summer-heaven. I am hoping that on the way to Pownalborough Courthouse on Sat., we can stop at a farm stand the has some berries just picked that morning. If so, I will make my first strawberry pie of the season on Sunday.
|Be sure to visit our website HERE~|