Monday, April 22, 2013

Domestic Goddess-hood

This weekend was highly successful and enjoyable on the homemaking front, I must say!  Unfortunately, I was too busy being productive to take pictures, but I do have a recipe to share.

My most rewarding project was making bread.  I love bread...lots of kinds of bread.  Which, if you ask my mom, is kind of a surprise.  When I was little, I hated bread.  I hated eating at Subway because there was so much BREAD in the dang sandwiches.  I wanted the crusts cut off my wonder bread  because there was just tooooo much bread in my sandwich.  Toast?  No. Bagels? Gross.  Don't even talk to me about rolls.  Why.  No.

Now?  Hand me that loaf and keep your fingers out of the way!  Om nom nom.  When I worked at Fort Michilimackinac, I learned how to make all sorts of breads--quick breads, yeast breads, round breads, sweet breads, oaty breads...all tasty!  There was just something magical about popping a raw, floury, doughy lump in a big cast iron pot, shoveling bits of smoldering wood on top, and then lifting the lid an hour later to find a beautiful, fluffy, golden loaf.  Science?  Magic?  Doesn't matter!  Pass the butter.

I used to make bread a lot when I lived with my parents.  When they renovated their kitchen, they specifically designed their breakfast bar to sit a little higher than a normal counter top so that my dad could make bread on it, so it was an optimal height and width for kneading dough.  Now, at my own place, I have very little counter space and a lot of random not a lot of space to splash down some flour and go six rounds with some yeast.  Also, I'm super impatient and I don't like the fact that yeast is extremely selfish and takes FOREVER to rise--twice!  Then, I found this recipe:

Simply So Good Crusty Bread
See the original blog post here!

3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon Instant or Rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 cups water

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast.  Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 - 18 hours.  Overnight works great.  Heat oven to 450 degrees.  When the oven has reached 450 degrees place a cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and let set while the pot is heating.  Remove hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough.  Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.  

As far as I can figure, this really is a foolproof bread.  Seriously; you dump your stuff in a bowl, leave it alone for half a day, and then throw it in the oven (more or less).  Forty-five minutes later, you have fresh, homemade bread with a crispy crust and delicious chewy inside.  And, as you can see in the linked post, it's easy to add stuff--I currently have a batch of rosemary-garlic at home on my stove, waiting for me to get home and bake it.  How easy is that?!

I'm happy to report that the first experimental loaf barely lasted the weekend.  I took it over to my folks' house for a visit and came home with the last couple of slices in a plastic baggie.  It's just really good bread!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Shop is Open!

After a bit of a hiatus (traveling, getting a new job, computer death, etc), my Etsy shop is open again!  In addition to fabric and some ready-made accessories,  I'm now listing some custom-made items; the first one to go up is a tucked 1860s petticoat like mine, which I love:

I'll be adding some more things in the next few days.  Real life keeps slowin' me down, man!  First my laptop died, then I remembered that I'm a grown-up and have to do things like taking out the trash and going to the grocery store...boring!  I'm-a keep working on it, though, so check back soon (like, hopefully tomorrow) for more cool stuff!

Edited to Add:
I've put up another listing, but more importantly I wanted to also let everyone know that my good pal Samantha at The Couture Courtesan is also taking commissions as soon as school is over, which is in just a couple weeks now...and her handwork on delicate fabrics is unreal.  If you're interested in a super-fancy cap, apron, or something like it, you should hop on that as soon as possible.  Obviously I don't have the money (why do you think I'm Etsy-ing?) but I know if I did she'd be the first person I'd pay for a really nice bit of fluff to put on my head.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tiny Treasures: the Radiant Ring

Someday I will get tired of making dorky titles for my blog posts.  Today is not that day.

I also will not soon tire of looking at pretty things, and it just so happens that this is one of the prettiest things I I thought I'd share!

Garnet & Pearls, two of my favorite things!

I actually initially found this ring from a link on Facebook; one of my reenacting friends was recommending an eBay seller to another friend, and I decided, what the heck, why not take a look?  Oh dear.  Remember the tiny watch fob I found for Rich?  This was from the same seller.  I am nothing if not consistent in my tastes.

Tucked safely in its box
This was listed as a Georgian piece, dated around 1810-20.  There's some wear on the pearls, but overall it's in quite good condition and everything seems to be safe & secure in its setting.

Not precisely small, but flat and easy to wear
While this ring was briefly an option while Rich and I were choosing an engagement ring, I'm much happier with the idea of it as a special-occasion item.  It's fairly large compared to my normal choice of hand jewelry, although I appreciate how low a profile it has.  Also, I'm not paranoid about damaging it, per se, but I think it would make me nervous to wear an item that valuable & old every day.  What if I broke it?!  Think of the trauma!  This way, I can haul it out for special occasions and historical happenings, enjoy it, and then put it back in its cozy little box to wait safely until the next time.

Yep, still pretty!

Friday, April 5, 2013

PSA for Size 8 Feet

Sometimes wearing a size 8 shoe is frustrating--it's a fairly common size in adult women, so a lot of times it'll sell out quickly and I won't be able to find the shoes I want in my size.  Then, sometimes it pays off.

If you wear size 8s and are looking for an inexpensive Regency/1812 shoe, try David's Bridal Outlet.

Sure, they're not perfect--however the "accurate" versions on the market at the moment also have things about them that I either personally dislike, or that I don't find terribly accurate either.  Also, these are $9.99.  That's right--I just paid $16.95 WITH SHIPPING.

I've done a lot of looking at historical shoes in the past several months, and the conclusion I've come to is if you truly want something perfect, you're going to have to do something like Nicole at Diary of a Mantua Maker has done and go the totally-historical route--and also learn an entirely new art.  In my eye, the mass-produced options available still fall short of the accuracy mark, which makes me extremely unwilling to drop over $60 or even $100 on a shoe that still isn't right.  If I can find something that is attractive, at least as accurate for my purposes as the commercially reproduced versions, and costs less than $20?  I know which one I'm going to pick!  And yeah, I'm snipping that bow off as soon as they arrive.

For my purposes, these work in terms of shape better than a pointy-toed option, based on museum examples c. 1800-20.  I'm going for around 1810-12 most of the time, which tended to have a rounder toe box than the 1790s versions that have been available to the general public lately.  The very flat sole is also consistent with both extant and illustrated examples that I've seen dating from around 1804 up to about 1820.  I say "up to" simply because my research doesn't extend into the 20s, not because flat soles and round toes didn't exist into the 20s or even 30s!

So in conclusion--if you have size 8 feet and would prefer to go easy on your wallet...check it out while they last!  Or, if you need a different size, try this style for an affordable option.  It has all the good points I just mentioned, is still darn cheap for a pair of decent historical shoes, and also comes in multiple sizes including wide widths.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

One Lovely Blog Award!

I've never done one of these before, but since I haven't taken pictures for my intended post yet, I figure this will make a nice interlude.  Also, you don't know it yet, but there's a pun in the title--and you all know how I feel about title-y puns!

My dear Samantha at The Couture Courtesan awarded me this because she is a sweetie and a love.  Oh, and she makes beautiful stuff!  If you don't already follow her blog, you really should.

1. Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Add the ‘One Lovely Blog Award’ image to your post.
3. Share seven things about you.
4. Pass the award on to seven nominees.
5. Include this set of rules.
6. Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs.

Let's see...I'm not sure there are seven things about me that aren't hideously boring, but I'll give it a shot!
  1. When I was about 8 years old, my parents took me to Colonial Michilimackinac, an 18th century fort and trading post in Northern Michigan.  I fell in love and vowed I'd work there some day.  Eleven years later, I did just that!  Working as a costumed interpreter there really sparked my love of history, material culture, and historical clothing, and I definitely would not be where I am today without having had that experience.  I also met several wonderful people with whom I am still fast friends!
    A day in the life of an interpreter...getting "married" for the 2nd time that day.
  2. I keep rats, and although I know some people think it's weird, they're honestly the best pets I could ever ask for.  They're very sweet and social, with distinct personalities and a surprisingly high level of intelligence.  I started out with three boys a few years ago and although that little family of sweethearts has passed on, I've got four girls and two baby boys now that I adore.  The only downside is that they only live about two years, and saying goodbye is always hard.  It's totally worth it, though.
    Samantha getting some quality time with one of my first babies, Babbington
  3. Horseback riding is my #1 favorite type of exercise.  Right now my poor Jackson has a 'sports injury' and my instructor has been transitioning her lessons to her own property due to unforeseen circumstances at the barn we'd been using, so my schedule has been a little off...but I'm looking forward to warmer weather and hopefully Jackson making a full recovery soon!
    Cheeky horsie
  4. I'm bilingual, fluent in both English and Spanish.  I know I've surprised some of my friends before, especially at events--I'll bust out the Spanish with a visitor or family and people who had no idea I could speak it get the greatest looks on their faces!
  5. Coffee is my drug of choice.  In the morning, do not speak to me until I have had a cup of it--at least one.  I've been drinking coffee ever since I could sit up and it doesn't look like I'm going to quit anytime soon!
  6. I've had an online journal of some sort for over ten years now.  I can't even count the number of friends I've made in that time--some of my most long-term friends are people I've never met in person!  I don't know about you but I'm pretty sure that's awesome.
  7. And lastly but most importantly, I just got engaged!  My boyfriend-now-fiancee Rich came to visit from England (yes, he has an accent) over Easter and proposed on Monday.  He's pretty jet lagged from his flight home (boo) right now I think, but we're both excited and the outpouring of support and congratulations from our friends both online and in person has been overwhelming and very touching.
    Ze ring!
And, my nominations!

....Right, now I remember why I never do these things.  Because how can I possibly pick!?!?

Remember how I mentioned some of my superlongtime friends are from the internets?  Jen's one of them, and I love her cooking blog.  She may or may not know it, but her blogging has inspired me to be more adventurous in the kitchen, and also, who doesn't love pretty pictures of yummy food?

Ginger is another internet friend, although we have actually met in real life--twice!  She was more than a little instrumental in getting me into 1860s clothing, and I've had tons of fun watching her ace outfit after outfit in new periods.

I basically consider Jesse part of the family, and am in awe of her crafting abilities.  Sure, I make historical clothing...but I can't craft to save my life!  She does adorable cake pops, super cute bags, and the crochet aviator hat she made for her son last Halloween is basically the best thing I've ever seen.

I just can't even describe this stuff.  This gal is self-taught...and if I had half her skill I would absolutely die.  And also her figure.  And her hair.  If I didn't like her so much I'd hate her, but her stuff is so pretty and she's so nice and so gracious!

Basically, I am in awe of anyone who can knit.  I taught myself how to once and then decided I hated it...I was so slow!  This blog not only has awesome knitting, it's historical knitting.  Seriously.  Amazing.

Great 1860s stuff, kid patterns, and cute pictures.  What's not to love?  I was fortunate enough to meet Amy once in real life at an 1860s event in Texas, and we had great fun socializing...and playing with her adorable daughter.  

Okay, there's a lot of beautiful stuff here but seriously?  I've never seen one person make SO MANY beautiful pairs of stays.  How.  I don't...what.  How do you even?  Seriously beautiful.  And she's cute as a button in her pictures!

P.S. This seriously took me all day because I thought of five random facts about myself and then got stuck on a sixth for about five hours.  Eesh!

P.P.S. The pun I mentioned?  Rich's last name (and my future one!) is Lovely.  Get it?