November 30, 2010

The story of my Christmas stones~

I moved alone to New Hampshire in the fall of 1998, from my birthplace and home in Illinois---a journey of over 1000 miles. My first Christmas here was only 3 months later. I had known no one here at all when I came that sunny September day and moved into the dumpy little 225 year old house that needed as much TLC as I did.
By Christmastime a year later I had many friends, my little antique shop here at the house, and had decided to start what would become an annual event for the next 7 years, my 'Colonial Christmas' Open House.  That day each year became 'my Christmas',   as I was frequently alone on the actual holiday itself. It seems Christmas is a family day, and I was on my own in rural New Hampshire. It was not always sad. My little dog Phoebe and I celebrated with a little gift to myself and one for her, and a special homemade dinner that I shared a bit of with her as well. If I were not with friends, Phoebe and I would snuggle up near the fire and watch those cheesy Christmas movies you always like to see over and over again, because even if you are feeling low somehow they are a glimmer of hope that there really are miracles and happy times ahead.

That year of the first Christmas Open House for my shop, I got to thinking about kids and their letters to santa. I was feeling a bit lonely and times were very hard indeed for a single woman with little money and minimal construction skills, trying to restore an old house alone. I, like a kid peering into a candy store window wished for the things I saw around me, especially at this time. No, not really all the gifts and fancy things money could buy, but other things that sometimes you can't afford either, when there is only you fighting to survive and build a new life. They are the things that lots of us take for granted, and all of us covet far more than material things. So I had this idea. I would make a Christmas wish list. Instead of paper, I would use stones. Yes, stones---but not just any stones. A tiny brook runs down the hill and alongside my house. One chilly day I bundled up, put on my 'wellies', and waded into the stream searching for appropriate stones. I fished a number of suitable, smooth rocks of New Hampshire granite out of the water and threw them onto the bank. It seemed fitting that I write my holiday wishes on rocks from my own little brook.

I took a white paint pen, and sat at the table by the window looking out at the snow covered hill and the little stream and waterfall, my rocks spread out in front of me on newspaper. I thought about all the things that I truly cared about and wished for, not only for myself, but for all the friends, and strangers, and soon-to-be-friends that would shortly be at my door for my very first 'Colonial Christmas Open House' only days away.

The wishes came to me, tumbling together like the rocks in the brook. 'A pet to love you', 'friendship', 'dancing', 'a little night music', 'a happy little home', 'someone to love you', 'laugh a lot', 'wake up smiling', and many more. That year, I put moss all around the base of the Christmas tree and carefully placed my stones on it, surrounding the entire tree. People at the open house wanted to buy my wishing stones! I explained that they were not for sale, but that they should perhaps use my idea as an inspiration and find something that meant a lot to them, and write their OWN heart's desires on it.



That was now over 12 years ago. I still have each and every stone. Every year I would carry them down from the attic at Christmas. They were a comfort in sad, broke, lonely and difficult times.

There are still sad times and hardships. I guess everyone of us needs the comfort and remembrance and HOPE of something like my Christmas stones.  This year, my wishes-on-stones are nestled outside on the porch by the woodpile, silently greeting any guest who may arrive. All I have to give, and the best that I can offer to those friends and loved ones are the heartfelt wishes I wrote on my river rocks long years ago.



November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving in Freedom

We dressed in 17thc. clothing and went to the Thanksgiving Town Supper in Freedom yesterday to the suprise and delight of all the many guests. We even brought our own pewter plates, 17thc. spoons (they did not use forks back then!), pottery 'tygs' and antique linen napkins, and ate in period correct manner.
Adam had his musket and bandolier, and gave the young boys a little lesson on loading the firelock.

These photos of us were taken yesterday, just as we were leaving for Freedom~


                                                                                                              
Yesterday at 9 AM we put up our 17TH AND 18THC. NEW ENGLAND CHRISTMASTIDE GALLERY PHOTO ESSAY on our website.  Make sure to then scroll all the way down to the bottom of the HOME page and click on the link that says '17th and 18thc. New England Christmastide Gallery' in red. Please turn up the volume on your computer so you can hear the accompanying musick! We both send all of you our most heartfelt wishes for a joyful holiday and hope our Christmastide Gallery will be a warm and magical experience for all~

***Please note that this gallery will only be up a short time. We change our galleries periodically to reflect our '18thc. adventures' and life. We hope you enjoy all our galleries~

November 25, 2010

OUR '17TH AND 18THC. NEW ENGLAND CHRISTMASTIDE GALLERY PHOTO ESSAY IS NOW UP ON OUR WEBSITE!




      
(Our Gallery begins on the HOME page of our website, with a few welcoming photos. Make sure that you SCROLL ALL THE WAY DOWN THE 'HOME' PAGE and CLICK ON THE LINK THAT SAYS '17th and 18thc. New England Christmastide Gallery' to see the entire gallery~Make sure to turn the volume up on your computer as well and enjoy the accompanying music. We hope you enjoy sharing a bygone New England holiday with us~)

***This gallery will only be up a short time. We change our galleries on our website periodically to reflect or '18thc. adventures and life. We hope you enjoy them all~

November 23, 2010

Cookies, love, and tradition~

For over 20 years I baked at least 30 kinds of Christmas cookies every year. Once, to the delight of my young children, I even made a decorated gingerbread 'Santa's sleigh'---a 2 day long production involving many Christmas hard candies and vast quantities of homemade gingerbread and 'royal icing'. You then put it in the center of your table with all your cookies in it! (I still have a picture of is somewhere in my old cardboard 'photo box'.)
The Christmas cookies were recipes my mother made also, and gave to me along with her 'Mirro' cookie press from the 50's!  There are the green trees, and the wreaths decorated with green sugar and bits of red cherries, made with the press, but also delectable confections such as 'tea time tessies', the dark-chocolate-y good 'buried cherry cookies', 'frosted cranberry lemon cookies', 'chocolate peanut clusters', 'toffee bars', 'Mary's sugar cookies'---painstakingly cut out and intricately frosted, the melt in your mouth, 3 layer 'after-dinner-mint brownies', homemade shortbread, mom's 'chocolate balls'---made with only confectioners sugar, pecans, butter, and chocolate chips ground up---nothing else, and they dissolve in your mouth.  There were 'butter riches', and 'raspberry rugelach' and more... Most of my recipes are cut out of old newspapers, written ages ago on old recipe cards and envelopes, or are dog-eared, post-it-marked pages in old cookbooks from the 50's and 60s. All are stained from handling while baking! Every one is chock full of yummy things and of memories.



I have not made any Christmas cookies in a few years now. There were hard times and other responsibilities. Although I personally do not stuff myself with treats, normally eating as 'healthy' as I possibly can, a few judicious morsels throughout this season are in order.  Adam has requested that this year we make holiday cookies together, a suggestion that warmed my heart.  Budgetary constraints will not allow us to bake the full complement of goodies, so we will choose several of our most time-honored favorites.

This Saturday will find us in the tiny kitchen surrounded by sugar and flour, nuts and chocolate, sprinkles, spatulas a make-do icing bag, and an aroma of baking cookies. Pure joy.

Every evening, after dinner and after the day is done, we have a cup of tea together in our bed, the yorkie girls snuggled against us, and often a fire in the bedroom fireplace. We agreed last night that each evening of this holiday season we would place just a few of our assortment of  cookies on a plate, and have them with our tea. Some will be for company or friends that just stop in.  For us, the baking of them together is as good as the eating of them by the fire.


There is love in the making and sharing of food. There is comfort in the simple pleasures of creating something together. The car may be on the fritz, or the washer, or a thousand other things, but in a crazy world the reassurance and joy of tradition is not to be underestimated.

This is just one of our own traditions this season. Small things we always do or share together are the underpinnings of our lives. So on Saturday, we will listen to A New England Christmastide  and The Nutcracker as we happily make a big mess in the little kitchen.


November 22, 2010

Mayflower Society, Thanksgiving, and remembering our forefathers and mothers~

Our day with the Mayflower Society of Maine was lovely, and our presentation of DRESSING A COLONIAL LADY was a terrific hit. There were over 100 guests in the audience, and one of our favorite parts of the day was after the luncheon when a funny, charming gentleman, known (but with affection!) as an 'outlaw'---a spouse of a direct Mayflower decendent---stood up to read the 'roll call'. He held up large signs, one at a time, with each name of every person on the Mayflower in 1620, calling out each name in turn. After each one, everyone present who descended from that particular person stood up. It was so moving. Here, across the eons hundreds of years later stood people descended from those brave 102 'first comers'.
Hopkins won, with 28 ancestors in attendance this day.

We are looking forward to Thanksgiving. We will be dressing in 17thc. clothing, and attending the Freedom Town Thanksgiving Supper. Before and after the scrumptious turkey dinner we will stroll from table to table and talk with everyone. They love to see our stringently-correct period clothing as well as Adam's bandolier, plug bayonet, and dog lock musket.  As I mentioned in a previous post, there is nothing like an old fashioned New England town supper.


I am wearing the deep russet 17thc. doublet and white linen shift, and the true linsey woolsey petticoat with the hand embroidered crewel border at the bottom.




Above is a photo of me in the complete ensemble. I have a brown leather belt, and a small period-correct bag very similar to the one in the photo below.
My white linen coif and black felt hat complete the outfit.


Any day at all spent with my sweetie is treasured, and what I am most grateful for.
Later in the day, after the mid-afternoon feast in Freedom, we shall be here at home, listening to our Christmas music, and uploading our '17th and 18thc. New England Christmastide Gallery' on our website.


I wish all of you a most wonderful Thanksgiving.  I hope I have brought a little bit of a unique New England Thanksgiving to you wherever you may be.





November 18, 2010

Carrot-ginger soup, 'Dressing a Colonial Lady', and only one week from today~

It is a sunny but very chilly day here in New Hampshire. I have alternately been making homemade Carrot-ginger soup, and getting all the 18thc. clothing and books, etc. ready for our presentation of DRESSING A COLONIAL LADY for the Mayflower Society in a few days.  We are also their guests at the luncheon afterwards, and it sounds delicious.
It is a lot of organizing, packing up, hauling and setting up to do our program, and it is our top priority to make it as special and wonderful for our audience as we can. I am listening to both of A New England Christmastide cds as I work. It was warm but dark and rainy yesterday, and I confess that after a long day, I sat down and watched the 'Felicity, an American Girl Adventure' dvd! We have had this for years. I know it is probably a movie for children, but it is one of my guilty pleasures, and I love to watch it every year around this time. (This is the movie about the young girl in Williamsburg in 1775).

One week from today is Thanksgiving, and the night we will at long last debut our '17th and 18th c. New England Christmastide photo gallery' on our website. (***We change our galleries frequently. This gallery will only be up for a short time.) 
We have just put music up on the site, on the Christmastide gallery page for the first time. I confess, although we were the ones who did all the work and took all the photos, and have seen the fruits of our labors, we are just as excited to put our gallery up for everyone to enjoy, and are counting down the days. We hope it will transport everyone back in time and be a restful, peaceful fantasy look at times long gone. In the meantime please visit our website and enjoy the music we have selected.

I thought I would share the recipe for the carrot-ginger soup~

2T. olive oil
2c. chopped Vidalia (sweet) onion
3 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
2-3 T. minced ginger (I use the fresh in a jar and some of the pickled, cut up)
3c. water
3c. fat free chicken stock/broth
4T. heavy cream

Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add onion and carrots. Cook 10 min., stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper and the ginger. Add the water and broth. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 min. Remove from heat and cool. Place some soup and the cream in a food processor and blend until smooth. Keep doing batches, until all is done. Return mixture to pot. Cook over med. heat until thoroughly heated. This is so yummy and satisfying, as well as healthy!

November 17, 2010

The perils of publication



 Our 18thc. center chimney cape in New Hampshire

A few years ago we gave Judy Condon permission to feature our home in one of her books. Truthfully, we had never heard of her, or seen any of her books on 'country decorated' houses.

After a couple years, we received a copy of the book with our home in it. It was awful, and not one we wanted to be featured in. Most of the photos were now hopelessly out of date.
Antiques were misidentified.
We were never contacted and read the final text before printing and were rather horrified at some of the blatant errors, outright made-up 'facts', and misinformation in the article, despite the fact that we provided clear and factual information directly to her, long before printing.
There were captions describing things that were not in the accompanying photos.
There were statements made as facts, that were entirely made up by the author, such as that I once had a "houseful of 19thc. painted furniture" (untrue), or that "Adam made the fold up shoe foot table" on the kitchen wall. (This piece is actually an 18thc. table with original finish.)
A 17thc. livery cupboard that we have IS the one pictured in John Fiske's book, not one "like it", and we did NOT get our  authentic English 17thc. bed in "Williamsburg"!
We two hand-made our beautiful diamond-scribed batten door on the front of our home, but I did not "trace lines" as the author states---Adam painstakingly hand-gouged all of the diagonal lines on the door, and I hand hammered every rosehead nail in place.

Sadly, there were many more ridiculous and embarrassing  errors, but what was most regrettable was that she wrote that we "have a shop" (We don't---we sell only from our website. I had an open shop for many years, but had closed it to sell online exclusively several years before, and she certainly knew that.), and printed our address and phone number.
Unfortunately, she also printed the WRONG website address, despite the fact that we gave her the correct one in numerous emails and sent her our cards with the correct site address clearly printed on them!

Both Judy and Jill Peterson have jerked us around, and are neither's books are any that we would ever want to be featured in. 

I guess every time you allow someone to feature you in a book or magazine there is always the risk of this happening, but in the past, we have had some wonderful experiences with top-notch writers and photographers such as Paul Rochleau and Gladys Montgomery Jones.  We feel that when you allow photographers or  journalists into your home, they have a responsibility to get their facts correct.

We certainly regret our decision in this case, and hope that anyone wanting to see our home, and get to 'know' us will visit our website and this blog. The photos on our own site show our house as it really is. My husband is a wonderful artist, and graphic designer and we flatter ourselves that we are very creative. The two of us have worked hard to create a website that is a TRUE reflection of our lives, our home, and us.

In any case, we are working on OUR OWN book about our home and life, with many photographs. Everything is being done by us. It has been slow going with many other life-concerns that get in the way, but we will be offering 'COME THROUGH A NEW HAMPSHIRE DOORWAY' for sale at some point only on our website.
In the meantime, we hope you will all enjoy our website and our trademark,  periodic special photo galleries~ 

The way we met...A true love story~

So many people have asked me how Adam and I met. I decided finally, to tell the story here for the first time.  It is a truly amazing story, almost like something from a film, better than any romance novel, and certainly nothing I thought would ever happen to me.

There are things in life that are meant to be---things you can't plan, or control, or foresee, and sometimes, those are the best things....

I was a widow when I moved alone from Illinois to New Hampshire over 12 years ago. Most of you know the tragic circumstances if you have read this past post.

I had a small open antique shop here at the house for many years. Every year, the first Saturday in December, I would have a 'Colonial Christmas Open House' for the business. I would have the little 18thc. home I had painstakingly restored, open to the public for that one day---not just the shop. I worked for months in advance each year, baking hundreds of Christmas cookies and treats and freezing them. I cut all my own greens, did all my own decorating, and made gallons of homemade wassail that filled a huge iron pot in the main fireplace, and from which the guests helped themselves, ladling the steaming spiced drink into paper cups I had in an old basket on the hearth.
I had period music playing, dozens of candles lit, and I, and the few friends who always volunteered to help me greet guests, write up sales, etc., were dressed in the best but rather lame 18thc. make-shift costumes we could fashion.
No one here had anything like my Colonial Open House, and it became a bit of a local legend, and 'THE' place to go every year.

I always wrote an appealing press release for the open house, and posted copies all over town. I also made trips to local papers, and asked if they would be willing to give me a little space and print them in their 'events' section for free a week before my open house, which they always graciously did.
In December 2004 I had a line of people outside, waiting for me to open the door promptly at 10 AM. There was the usual mad rush, and at least 60 people in here at once, at any given time during the long day.

I saw a man come in wearing very good 18thc. clothing, his cocked hat under his arm. He approached me and politely and quietly said he had seen a write-up in the paper about my Colonial Christmastide Open House, and knew he had to come. He said he hoped I didn't mind that he came in 18th century attire.
I was swamped with people demanding my attention, and I laughed and welcomed him, and said "I don't mind, but others may think you are the 'help!'" This was because only myself and my 'helpers' were in period-style dress. I had never seen this man before at any of my other open houses. I bade him make himself at home, look around, and help himself to as much as he wanted to eat---I made so many dips, cookies, 'sweetmeats', etc., that the long table was always piled high with all manner of treats for this event.

As I ran around all day talking to people, changing cd's, re-filling platters of food, and helping with sales, I noticed that the gentle man in the lovely 18thc. clothing was chatting up a storm with everyone, and popping treats into his mouth. He seemed to be having a grand time, and I was pleased. He stayed until I closed up at 5 PM, and was the last to leave. I cheerfully thanked him for coming, and said I hoped he had enjoyed the day.

A year went by...
I never saw the man in 18thc. dress during that time, nor knew his full name...

In November of 2005, I was again in the mad rush of pulling everything together for the annual Colonial Open House. The day arrived, and so did my loyal and helpful friends. Before the 10 AM opening, lo and behold here came the man from the year before, again dressed in 18th century finery!
He introduced himself as Adam Spencer, and said that if I did not mind, he had come to HELP for the entire day. I was delighted. He seemed so affable and interested. I knew everyone would admire him and his clothing, and enjoy talking to him. I welcomed him in and thanked him.
The open house was again a madhouse, and a great success. At 5 all my friend-helpers left and so did Adam, taking his leave with a smile, and profuse thanks. He had certainly helped, but I was also glad he had had a nice time.

I had only seen Adam twice. Once at this open house, and at the one the year before.

About a week later, Adam came to my shop on a regular day I was open. I wondered what he was doing there, out of the blue.  He did purchase a cd of Christmas music, and then asked about the paid hearth suppers I cooked in costume, in my home, for private groups. He said he would like to hire me to make one for him. Now normally I only cooked my hearth dinners for a minimum of 6 people,  and I did not have the heart to tell him this.
It was days and days of work to do a meal for a party. I was broke and desperately needed the $50. profit, so I told him I would be happy to do the dinner for him.  I was very businesslike as usual, and we went over a menu. He said he would like me to sit down and eat with him. That was not too unusual, and we set the date he wanted,  about 2 weeks hence.
The period fireplace-cooked meal was wonderful if I do say so, and he seemed very pleased. He was in awe over every little thing in the house, and we talked about history and his reenacting for several hours. I was polite but formal feeling this was business after all. The evening went well, and I felt he had had a nice time. I was tired but proud of all the work I had done, and happy that my client was pleased. I went to start cleaning up the dishes and pots, and put it out of my mind---another job well done...

About a week later, it was a snowy Sunday morning. I was just about to get moving,  put the flags out, and open the shop, when there was a knock at the door. I guessed it was someone who didn't realize I opened at noon on Sunday, and decided to let them in early as I had nothing better to do.
I looked like a rag doll in sweats, no make-up, and a polar fleece top.

I opened the door and was quite shocked to see Adam, dressed in his very best 18thc. outfit, and holding an armful of grocery store flowers (all he could find on a Sunday morning in the country, I later learned.)
I had a momentary flash of wondering what he was doing here, and didn't even have a second to react. I still remember every word he said to me as I stood there, hair sticking out all over, mouth probably open.
He looked at me. He seemed very nervous, and he stammered. He proffered the flowers and said:

"I want to court you in 18th  century style and I don't care how long it takes."---
Those were his exact words. I will never forget them.

Much later, when we would talk and remember that time, he told me that he was "love struck" when he came to my Colonial Christmas open house the second time, and watched me as I danced around the dining room demonstrating some 18thc. dance steps for the guests.
Love really can find you, and walk right in your door...

And the rest, my dear friends...
                                                  is HISTORY!

Read PART ONE of 'OUR 18THC. WEDDING' HERE~

November 15, 2010

'Nutcracker' dreams, a cute outfit, and Oh! THOSE SHOES!

I love the Nutcracker ballet. I have been to see it many times in many places. It has now been about 10 years however, and I miss it so much. This year, my sweet Adam told me he really hoped to get us tickets for a December performance in Portland Maine. While the tickets are not terrifically pricey, with the job loss 2 years ago and possible career change, Adam's assistant teacher pay (special needs children to boot.), of a shocking and insulting approximately $250. a week---(do not even get me started on THAT rant, and the messed up priorities in this country), the Nutcracker MAY remain only a dream for us again this year.

I have a darling outfit that I got out to look over, hoping for a little miracle. I have a lovely grey cashmere 'babydoll' sweater with silver lace trim. I have had it for years. I have a pair of skinny, black velveteen slacks that look wonderful with it. Truthfully, here in the country most of my 'fancy' clothes do not get worn. I have not shopped in a mall in many years. I came to New Hampshire with some "Chicago clothes" years ago, and while some are now dated, many are timeless 'classics'.
Once, when I first moved here I found a long (floor length) black velvet, off-the-shoulder gown with long narrow straight sleeves. It's only adornment was the soft, silky dark brown fur trim all along the off-shoulder neckline. It came with a matching fur muff. In a rare flight of fancy and utter illogicality, I bought it! I tucked it away in my closet with the promise to myself that if I got a date here sometime who would take me to see the Nutcracker, I would wear it.  I had many dates over the years, but none that produced the opportunity to wear the "Boston Nutcracker Gown" as it came to be known.
I still have it. I tried it on for Adam and he almost fell over. That was a good sign.

Now, the Merrill Auditorium in Portland Maine has a lovely performance of the ballet. It is not so costly as Boston standards, and the attire may be a bit less formal.  I am still holding out hope for a good sale from our website,  or another lecture, in hopes that THIS may be the year for a romantic evening at the 'Nutcracker' with the love of my life. Although  the "Boston Nutcracker Gown" will remain in it's bag for now, I have a feeling someday I will be able to pull out this most classy, elegant dream dress and say "Ah, I have the perfect thing for ____________!"

In the meantime, if we should be so fortunate as to be at Merrill Auditorium in Portland some evening next month, I plan to wear the adorable sweater and black velveteen slacks pictured here. For the absolute over the top WOW factor, I have my 40's style, ballet-pink sateen, platform, big-bowed high heels---(I even have a lovely little headband with a pale grey satin ribbon decorated with big faux-rhinestones on one side, that I would wear instead of any jewelry.)



OH, THOSE SHOES!
I guess what I am saying is that there are many dreams in life---some big, some small. I have realized some against all odds, and that I never thought possible.
Some dreams just have to wait in the closet with the 'dream dress' for just the right time. Some, like an unexpected letter from a friend in your mailbox, or the flower that your husband picks and leaves on the counter for you to find after he leaves for work, come to you out of the blue and bring a tear of joy to your eyes.
I am still dreaming of seeing the Nutcracker THIS year, and of wearing THOSE SHOES!

November 14, 2010

A Magical Evening Back in Time~

Last night was our reenactment group's Regimental Dinner at the Salem Cross Inn. This was a true 18th century  evening, right down to the stories, period songs, and toasts. We had the most wonderful time, and the food was fabulous. They even had horse drawn cart rides for us outside just before dinner.
We have just put up a small gallery of photos of the event on our website.
I want to share a bit of my special evening with all of you, and hope you enjoy the pictures.

(Please understand that this gallery will only be up a short time. We change our photos galleries on our website often to reflect our '18thc. adventures' and life. We hope that you will enjoy all of our galleries.)

November 10, 2010

An evening at a 1705 Inn with our 'mates'~


We have been anticipating this evening for months now. Our reenactment group is having it's own
Regimental Dinner at the 1705 Salem Cross Inn in Massachusetts this weekend. Our meal, which we will all help to prepare will be cooked in a massive fireplace at the inn pictured here, and sounds mouth watering indeed.



 Salem Cross Inn’s famous cheese spread and a glass of mulled wine or cider.
 Traditional New England chowder, Prime rib cooked on c.1700 roasting jack.
 Homemade rolls and muffins.  
 Herbed roasted potatoes, homemade spinach pie and fresh butternut squash.
 Apple Pie with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. 

The men will be in their uniforms of course, and we ladies in gowns. I am puttering this morning, doing something that is is fun---getting all my 18thc. fripperies ready. I will endeavor to paint a picture in your minds of what I shall be wearing to this much-anticipated evening~ I am laying out my fine linen shift, my stays, my bumroll, and my cream silk 'clocked' stockings. I have a pale yellow quilted petticoat that I am going to wear with the yellow and blue toile 'open robe'. The gown robe has two buttons at the back waist, and blue satin cording on the inside that can be drawn up and buttoned at the gown back to 'polonaise' it. I have done this, giving the gown that 'country milkmaid' look, and exposing more of the lovely yellow quilted petticoat. I think it is the perfect look for this event.

Here is a photo of 2 gown backs drawn up in 'polonaise' style. This is what I have just done, so picture my blue and yellow toile open robe (shown at the end of this post), drawn up like this over a yummy pale yellow quilted petticoat.

The petticoat is warm, and is nice this time of year. I have sewn the lace sleeve ruffles onto the printed 'robe' of the gown. I have a thin black silk ribbon to tie in a bow around my neck, and very wide black silk ribbons in my black 'tongued court shoes'. My lace 'pinner cap' matches the lace of my sleeve ruffles, and I just pinned a  bow of lovely yellow silk onto the back of it. I will be doing my own hair in a true 18thc. fashion, and the small lace 'pinner' will look adorable with it's yellow silk ribbon fetchingly hanging down the back. For strolling the grounds when we arrive, I have my long grey wool cloak with the gathered hood,  cream wool fingerless elbow-length gloves, knitted for me by a friend, and a black wide brim felt hat in the style of my summer straw ones. I have added deep royal blue silk ribbon ties to it for the evening. (I shall bring an apron along as well, so that I can help with the cooking at the hearth.)


I will be doing my make up to achieve a soft, 'English rose' 18th century look, and I am detailing my efforts here for your edification. I am using Chanel Pro Lumiere Professional Finish make up in the very palest shade, 'nude'. I put some on the side of my hand, and use a wedge sponge to apply on face and lids. The look is soft, pale, and dewey without being oily. I do NOT use a powder. Next, CREAM blush, 'rose' by Stila, applied sparingly. I brush a ballet-pink shadow over the entire eyelid, making sure to especially highlight the outer brow bone. Next, use Smashbox cream eyeliner in 'putty'. I apply it close to the lashline on the upper lid, and just at the lashline on the lower lid, from the outside in only about 1/3 or 1/2 way, tapering and blending. The liner should not be applied with a heavy hand, and should be blended for a soft look.  I then use Bobbie Brown 'taupe' matte eyeshadow in the CREASE, and the outer corners of the lid, blending well. Finish with a coat of black mascara on the upper and lower lashes. I use Diorshow upper, and Maybelline 'Lash Discovery' on the lower lashes because it has a brush with tiny bristles perfect for them. Finally, I line my lips with 'nude' lip liner by Cover Girl, blending. This gives a little more fullness, but no obvious 'line'. Fill in with L'Oreal 'tender pink' lipstick.
NO gloss. I sometimes use some of the Stila cream blush instead, for a rosy matte look to the lips.
Thats it.  The look is flawless, natural, and very soft.



Chris, the commander of our unit just sent us all a missive about the sometimes-hilarious protocol for our authentic period gala. I am including it here~

"Regimental or Colonial dress is recommended. Your companionship and friendship is what we are seeking. With that said Gents, the Regimental dress uniform is 1774 coat, waistcoat, and breeches. No gaitors, cartridge box, canteen, haversack. Please wear your hard helmet/feather and bayonet with leather clean and plate polished. If you plan on working by the fireplace, you might want to bring the workshirt/cap that you use in the field.

Also recommended:
1) Toasts
2) Memories or favorite stories of the past year reenacting
3) Any songs or even poems
4) Camera
5) Warm enough clothes if you want to stroll the grounds. Feel free to get there earlier in day if you want to make use of the daylight.
 A quick reminder on mess protocol:

As Master of Ceremonies and vice-president of the Mess, Serjt Boothroyd is to be known as "Mister Vice".  He is encouraged to punish any infractions of dress or decorum appropriately, eg by demanding a toast, speech, memory or inflicting a drinking fine.  All are encouraged to report any such infractions by standing to attention, saluting and shouting "Mister Vice".  

Paul Moran is the most junior full member of the Regiment currently attending, and should therefore make the first Official Loyal Toast to the King. Ideal time would be as we are all seated and about to tuck into the the first course. (Mr Loda is still technically probationary, but I encourage him to say a few words on behalf of Huckleberry). 

Roger Fuller is the most senior full member of the Regiment (after me), followed by Keith, Bryon and Chris Mattingly in that order.  The most senior present must therefore make the second official toast, to the Queen.  Ideally toward the end of the first course.

I, as Regimental Commander, and Mess President, shall make the third official toast, to the Regiment, after dessert is served. It would be very bad form for anyone (except guests from outside the Regiment) to toast the Regiment before me.  I shall also then present the Trooper of the Year Award, and then Kim shall recognize the distaff.  
(That is 'reenactor-speak' for we ladies!)


Other toasts are welcomed and encouraged at any time.  All toasts can (perhaps should) be accompanied by a short speech, a joke, or piece of praise, or memory.  The official toasts do not need to be rushed, one after the other.

Mister Vice should also propose a toast to the units of any guests attending.


YMHS
Captain Woolf"

A room at the Inn
Our party will have it's own room at the inn, and they are all as lovely and authentic as the one pictured here.
I will post all the details of our fantastic evening next week, and we plan to put photos of the event up on our website HOME page.
I will be wearing this gown, but with a heavy, solid yellow cotton quilted petticoat instead of the blue silk one shown here.  I have also added larger lace sleeve ruffles to the gown, and I am accenting all with the black shoes and neck ribbon, and the yellow silk ribbon on the back of my cap.
My black court shoes with wide black silk bows~


November 6, 2010

Reenacting history~

Adam and Mary, ready to board the schooner 'Liberty' in Boston for the reenactment of the landing of the British there in 1774.
My husband has been involved with historical reenacting for 10 years, and although I have a background in public speaking and costumed historical programs, it was he who introduced me to this crazy, addicting hobby when we started "courting" (and that is an incredible story I am saving for a future post.) I have now been doing this with him for 5 years.

There are thousands of living history reenactors. We are the ones in costume, sleeping in reproduction 18thc. tents, hauling water, cooking over a fire on the ground and fighting in re-created battles, all in what usually feels like 100 degree heat. We belong to specific groups, named for military companies that actually existed at the time. (You must be a member of a unit, as there are insurance issues, etc.).  It is all of these dedicated people that you see running around in the 'funny clothes' at the special historic events at places like Ft. Ticonderoga, Saratoga, Ft. Pemaquid, Ft. Louisbourg, Quebec, Old Sturbridge Village, Concord and Lexington, Ft. Niagara, and many, many more. These museums would not have any tourists come, nor the battle re-creations or the portrayals of 18thc. life for the tourists to see if it were not for these dedicated people doing this for the sheer love of it.
Our reenactment unit's banner.
We do NOT get paid for reenacting. What we do is completely on a volunteer basis. Many of us reenact more than one war or time period in history---Revolutionary war and French and Indian war, known as "rev" and "F&I" among reenactors.  (Adam and I reenact 17th century as well).  Most of us are 'working stiffs', with regular jobs and very modest incomes. No one buys the costly clothing, muskets, tents, and gear that is required, for us.  All of the accoutrements and clothing that Adam and I have took years to slowly collect, and/or make. You really have to love this hobby and history to make the commitment that we all do.

Adam
We can't afford vacations. Instead, our 'vacation' means loading up period tent, gear, clothing, food, and more---stuffing the van full and driving to Ft. Ticonderoga or the like, to spend a weekend living in as authentic an 18thc. military encampment as possible. We don't see our 21st century clothing until we get home days later. There are  no showers or shampoos for the weekend. We shlep water in buckets, and wash what we can by our tent from a basin. We cook and do dishes the same way. It seems as if it is almost always over 90 degrees, or cold and raining buckets. It takes unique people to do what we do, and it is not for everyone.
' Our men' in full dress. Their uniforms are 2 layers of thick, very heavy wool! This was on Boston Common in July.  It was over 95 degrees.  The men and we ladies marched in formation with the fife and drum, through the main streets of Boston to the ship and then back after the landing--- walking over 5 miles in un-padded reproduction 18thc shoes in 95 degree heat with full uniform, dress, and 'kit'.
As with everything in life, there are great reenactment groups and some not so great. We have experienced both in the past. For years we portrayed the patriot side at Revolutionary war events. My husband wanted a different perspective, and we both wanted to find the group where we felt we really belonged.  That led us fortuitously to the King's Own, 4th Regiment of Foot. Yes, we are now 'brits', and love every minute of it! What makes it most special for us are the members. We feel a strong sense of camaraderie, and we have great times with all of them. They are our friends. (We are looking forward to having them all up to our home for an 18thc 'lawn party' next summer, with the men also raising an elbow in our taproom.)
Me, and some of our members rest a bit in the shade of our company's tent 'fly'.
You have to be passionate and knowledgeable about history to be involved in this 'hobby'---(for most of us it is actually a lifestyle). Reenactors are ever-mindful of authenticity of clothing, weaponry, and of historical accuracy. The men have to have a proper musket and be able to use it. We ladies have to be so committed that we will smile as we stroll around, cook, etc. laced into stays, and with multiple layers of period clothing on in the sweltering heat.

For Adam and me, it is doubtful a lazy trip to the tropics will ever be in our future. On our own, we have a small side business presenting paid historical programs to museums, schools, etc., and having costumed tours of our 18thc. home.  The reenacting however, is done for love and not money. I have also volunteered, teaching fireplace cooking here in our home to small groups of elementary school boys and girls in an after-school program.

We have that passion for history. We love educating the public. Our 'vacations' will most likely continue to be spent in an encampment somewhere in New England or New York, with our friends. The long hot days' end has it's compensations; we clean up as best we can and the reenactors put on their nicer outfits and congregate after supper for a period dance or 'jolly', as our entertainments are called.

Re-creating history brings it to life for us, but also for the thousands of tourists who come to see us at hundreds of events. We LIVE history in our daily lives as well. It is all around us in the little 18thc. house we call home, and in the things that we live with, and the things that are important to us.


'APRIL MORNING'...On Lexington green. The arrow points to Adam. Historic Buckman Tavern, which witnessed the original battle in 1775 is in the background.

The men of our unit, the 4th, fighting.
At Concord Bridge...
Lexington Green. The battle takes place in the early morning, at the same time as the original. In the pre-dawn dark, thousands of tourists already line the entire green.


Patriot days