December 30, 2010

Full View Godey's Lady's Book for January 1864



I really love it when people have wonderful resources at their disposal and take the time to share them with others. I decided to digitize one of my Godey’s Magazines that wasn’t available online so everyone can benefit from it. I wish it turned out a bit nicer but I couldn’t use my scanner without damaging the magazine. The benefit of using my camera is that the pictures are of a really high resolution. You can read it in my pages at the top of my blog page. It is really hard to read in picture form, anyone who would like a PDF copy of it, please leave a comment with an e-mail I can send it to or send an e-mail to TheSailorsWifeSA@Aim.com.

Enjoy! (Oh, and I promise, no more Civil War posts for a while, I've been neglecting other periods and topics terribly.)

December 29, 2010

1850s Multicolored Yarns

Pearl wool and Chine Wool were multicolored wools similar to multicolored yarns today. In the late 1850s, these yarns were a relatively new style. These yarns were dyed alternately white and one or more colors, about 1/4 inch to 1/2 and inch long of each color. This yarn was used in scarves, hoods, and decorative pillows. This very pretty, sweater vest is possibly made out of pearl wool.

Another type of multicolored wool was "Clouded Wool." Clouded wool was  Clouded wool was wrapped in corn husks,paper, cloth or string every two or three inches apart before dyeing to create a white and colored effect. Clouded wool was popular in the 1840s.In later years clouded wool was made by combing two different colors of dyed, raw wool together before it was spun. Blue clouded wool socks are referred to in many early 20th century books and a possible "clouded blue sock" can be seen at the Wisconsin Historical Society. 


Below is a pattern for a knitted comforter or scarf. It is knitted with pearl wool and black to imitate woven plaid. For reenactors, if you can find 100% wool with 1/4-1/2 inch color streaks, a knitting project using it could add some much needed variety to the group impression.  


December 27, 2010

Living History Award 2010


With the end of the year approaching, I thought I'd point out some excellent blogging, living historians.  Currently the award if for ladies only. The ladies are the unseen foundation of living history and few people actually see all of the work they put into reeactments.

Many people don't get to the clothing we sew, the food we cook, and the chores we do, just so the men can have a battle. :D We also have to look pretty while wearing the same clothes for three days straight, not showering, and sleeping on the ground. (Okay, I admit, the men do a lot too, some women go into battle and some guys sew their own clothes.) But I think that everyone will admit that the following ladies do deserve recognition for their dedication to the hobby:


*The 1st award goes to Atlanta from The Story of a Seamstress. She always has a lot of projects going that get us through the reenacting off season. She also created a website for beginning reenactors. 

* The 2nd award goes to Becca Kae. and Susan and The Lady's Guide for Re-enactresses. Their blog gives numerous tips for reenactors.  

* The 3rd award goes to Bethany Lynn at Diary of a Seamstress. Bethany Lynn is a Living History rising star. Her blog shows photos of a lot of beautiful clothing she has made for both men and women. I expect more, great things from her in the future.  

Congratulations Ladies!

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With that being said, I need help with my HTML. My blog template has a serious issue. On some computers the page looks fine and is readable, but on many computers it is tiny. I have read a lot about how to change it, but nothing adjusts it so it looks good on small and large computer screens. Does anyone have any idea how to improve the template?

December 26, 2010

Christmas Ghost Stories: A Lost Tradition

Charles Dickens in 1842





During the 1820s-1830s, there was a heightened interest in forgotten Christmas traditions. Many traditions such as Christmas Ghost stories, decorating trees, and carol singing. 











The industrial revolution left families with more time and money to celebrate the Christmas holiday. Images of Prince Albert and his family celebrating Christmas, were published and republished, which further popularized forgotten Christmas traditions. Our celebrations today are a direct result of the Victorian celebrations. People sent Christmas Cards, went caroling, and even gave gifts.

Telling Christmas ghost stories was a popular Christmas tradition in the early and mid 1800s that has not survived to today. The most famous Christmas ghost story is by far, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Charles Dickens was inspired to write a Christmas Carol when his father was imprisoned for debt and Charles had to work in a shoe-blackening factory among the poor. Seeing the poor working conditions coupled with the lack of Christmas celebrations among all people incited him to write about the forgotten traditions and greed.  


Christmas ghost stories were widely popular in the 1830-40s, many writers wrote their own. Magazines of the time almost always included a ghost story in their issue for December.  It is thought that the ghost story tradition originated from the celebration of the winter solstice, or Yule. The shortest day of the year was associated with the "death of the sun" and its "rebirth."  The twelve days of Christmas also comes from traditional the Yule celebrations which lasted for 12 days.

Some Victorian Ghost Stories:
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
- A Christmas Ghost Story by Thomas Hardy.
- Winnie and Walter's Christmas Stories by Increase Niles Tarbox.
- A Ghost Story for Christmas by Dudley Costello

December 21, 2010

Civil War Dance: The Gothic Dance Instructions

The Gothic dance first appeared in the United States in the late 1850s. It appears to have first originated in Nova Scotia. The dance gets its name from the line of "Gothic" arches formed by the gentlemen's arms while dancing. It is considered a country dance because it is danced in two lines and is a relatively simple dance.

Before balls, the attendees would receive dance cards, which would allow the dancers to find partners ahead of time as well as learn dances that they might not be familiar with. Most balls only had only the most popular dances at the time so that the dancers would be familiar with the dances. Other dances could be performed at private parties and dances for variety. The Gothic dance is only included in two known period sources therefore appears to be more of a  regional dance.
 
I have tried to give the steps without using dance terminology. The Ladies are depicted as circles and the gentlemen as x's. The two rows should be about 4 feet apart and the space between dancers should be 1 1/2 feet.  

Step 1. Ladies and gentlemen form two lines facing each other. Ladies join hands and gentlemen join hands.
Step 2. Ladies take 4 steps toward the gentlemen .
Step 3. Ladies take 4 steps back while gentlemen take 4 steps forward.
Step 4. Men raise their arms and ladies, stop holding hands, and pass under the right arm of the gentleman directly in front of each lady in 4 steps. Keep in mind that the gentleman's right arm is on the left for the lady. Also the "foot lady", the lady at the end will not have an arm to go under and will have to only pass by her partner.
Step 5. Gentlemen drop hands and turn around while the ladies turn around. Gentlemen join hands while ladies join hands.
Step 6. Steps 1-6 are repeated until all are in their original spots.
Step 7. The two head couples (the two couples closest to the left on the diagram) join hands and turn clockwise until the two gentlemen are occupying the spot of the head lady and head gentleman.
Step 8. The two men at the head, join hands and the two ladies pass under the arms of the two gentlemen and pass around their partner and under and around their partner once more.
Step 9. The two gentlemen at the head join hands with their partners and the two couples pass through the two lines to the end. Make sure that the head couple rejoins the lines before the second couple to keep the couples in the same order.
Step 10. The gentleman's line takes 4 steps to the left while the ladies' like takes 4 steps to the right to bring the 3rd and 4th couples to the head of the lines. Repeat steps 1-10 until all dancers are in their original places.

 My sister drew that nice sketch at the top for me. I think it really helps people who have never seen the dance visualize it better. If you can think of anything else that would clarify the steps, please let me know. Hope you enjoy!

December 18, 2010

Family Christmas Traditions


I dislike Christmas. Maybe dislike is a strong word. Over the years my family has amassed a great deal of Christmas traditions. There are a lot of fun ones like driving around looking at everyone's Christmas lights and singing Christmas carols in the car on the way to church. But there are some family traditions that I think need to be done away with. My grandmother and my mother host a big Christmas party for my extended family on Christmas day. While I like the party and seeing everyone, I really wish I could spend Christmas day quietly with my immediate family.I really don't get to spend much time with them and I wish we could just spend it together.

I think this party adds a lot of stress to what could be a very pleasant Christmas. We have to have the party on Christmas Day because that's what has always been done. We eat the same meal every year, even the dishes that no one in the family likes or can eat because it is what we've always had. Would you believe that we even stick to the same topics every year? (School, work, 1970s guitarists, and football.)  

This tradition has really made me think different about traditions. I think it is very important to reevaluate traditions occasionally. Holidays are supposed to be fun, any tradition that stops being fun should be done away with. I hate dreading the holiday and wonder how I would celebrate Christmas when I have a family. Will I keep some of these traditions? Probably, but I know I will do away with some of them. I'd never want anyone to dislike such a special holiday. 

Are there any holiday traditions that you dislike? Any that you really like? 



December 14, 2010

Ladies' Choice Waltz

Everyone remembers the dance scene from Gangs of New York where Cameron Diaz' character "Miss Everdeane," is given her choice of dance partners by sitting on a chair in front of the gentlemen and looking at each one, in turn, in a mirror and shaking her head 'no' until the partner she wants passes by.

While the dresses are horrid from a historic perspective and the movie itself is not for young viewers and boasts a lot of fiction, the dance itself actually has some merit. Using a mirror to allow the women to choose dance partners was a popular beginning for waltzes in the 1860s and 1870s.



The movie then shows the couples dancing with candles. There are very few period references to "candle dancing" but a book from 1899 called "The World Wide Magazine" details a peasant ball in Italy which may have been the inspiration for the movie scene: 

"There are a few rather funny dances. One not unlike a figure of our cotillon is called the speahio, or looking-glass dance, and is very amusing to watch. A chair is placed in the middle of the room, round which a couple dance once or twice. The man then places the lady in the chair, and hands her a looking-glass. He then goes and gets another man, with whom he dances, and finally brings him up behind the girl in the chair. She sees his face in the looking-glass, and, if she likes him, gets up and dances with him for a short time. Then the man sits down, and girls are brought up in the same manner for him to choose. If he does not like them, he wipes the looking-glass with a handkerchief, and the girl has to retire, with a red face, amidst the laughter of those looking on. It seems rude, but is customary. Another dance I have never seen in England is called 'The Candle Dance,' perhaps on account of the amount of grease flying about, as the candle is kept lighted during the dance. It begins by as many couples as care to take part dancing round in the usual manner. One man who has not acquired a partner stands in the middle of the room with the lighted candle. He suddenly cries " Stop," and immediately each couple commences to walk round him arm in arm. He then cries "Go forward" or "Go backward," whichever he likes, and all the men have to leave their partners and take the girl in front or behind them as the case may be. Meanwhile the man with the candle is himself trying to get a partner before one of the other men. If he succeeds the man left out has to take the candle, but if baffled he still continues to hold it. Dancing commences again as soon as everybody has got his new partner."

December 9, 2010

In Remembrance of Boo

Boo, the world's best bunny, and my little baby, died tonight.
 

We will miss her terribly and love her always.



December 6, 2010

It's Too Cold to Post!

I keep trying to type but my hands keep getting so cold, I have to pile blankets on myself and wait for them to defrost. We had our first bit of flurries on Thanksgiving and more are expected tonight and tomorrow.

It was so warm last week I can't believe that it has changed to bleak gray skies and dry air. It's finally starting to feel like the yuletide season. I am readying myself for gingerbread houses. I found a great tutorial to make miniature gingerbread houses that go with hot chocolate here: Not Martha.

Gingerbread houses became popular in Germany after Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm published the German folktale, Hansel and Gretel in 1812. Honey is traditionally the main sweetener in German "lebkuchen" houses. In Hansel and Gretel,the antagonist a cannibalistic witch lives in a big house made entirely of candies and cake.

Some interesting gingerbread houses:


Those houses are amazing, aren't they? Keep warm and enjoy some cocoa and gingerbread. Here are some photos of the Colonial Plantation house decorated for Christmas. I did some knitting by the fire the day I took these. My yarn smells like a wood-burning stove but it's a cozy smell for it to have.





December 3, 2010

You Have My Permission...

My Unfinished Projects: 1. Pink and white Civil War Era knitted headdress(as seen on my sister's blue wig from a costume), 2. Green and black "Dark Mark" scarf (lost a knitting needle), 3. Peach, Colonial Era Jacket, 4. Purple, Civil War Era knitted suspenders, 5. Pink and white Colonial Era pockets. Notable projects not pictured: 1. Civil War Sontag (ran out of yarn), 2. Civil War Era Quilt, 3. Blue and white, handsewn Colonial Era Jacket. 


 To stop working on that project.

I constantly work on more projects than anyone could finish in a lifetime. Frequently, I have so many that I half finish them and forget about them until I am rummaging through my stuff looking for some material for yet another project. I used to think I had to finish every project I started, just as I used to think that I had to finish every book I started reading.

As I have gotten older, I realize that I don't have time to read books that aren't good and I don't have to finish every project I start. I frequently find that I will discover an abandoned project months later and no longer have a need for it anyway which makes it useless to finish. 

So for everyone who was sitting around like me, waiting for someone's permission to stop reading a bad book, or to stop sewing a garment that wouldn't fit you anyway, I give you my permission to stop and you don't have to feel the least bit bad about doing so. We are all very busy and all more productive than we think. Less projects and less guilt equal less clutter and more time to focus on what is important.









What to do with those abandoned projects?

Give them to someone else. I have Civil War Era dress patterns new in their packages that I know I will never get around to making. I also have half finished jackets and things that I know someone else could finish up quickly and use. Sometimes we stop projects when they get to a tedious point--it may be easier for fresh hands to finish up.
Recycle the Materials. You can always recycle the materials into something more useful to yourself at this point in time. Half done sewing projects can become raw materials for new ones. (Imagine my surprise when my boyfriend told me that he could use a bit of a half-done leather project for his uilleann pipes.)
Find someone willing to finish them for you. Sometimes my sister just wants to sew something and she doesn't have a project in the works or doesn't have money to finish the project she is working on and she'll help me sew. 
Put them on hold. Put the project on hold for a period of time until you might need it again. Working on knitting mittens in the summer might be less important at the time than sewing summer clothes. Just remember to give yourself time to finish the project before you need it.  

When I look at all of these unfinished projects I feel guilty. I am working on all of them slowly and most have to do with me needing more materials and refusing to buy them until I have a coupon. Surprisingly these are nowhere near all of my projects and they are always changing. I also have numerous unfinished writing projects, drawing projects, music projects. I am kind of surprised at myself that I take on so many projects. This seems crazy especially with all of my schoolwork but  I am one of those people that always have to be creating something or I go crazy. I guess I never really look at all of the things that get finished, in proportion, I guess the unfinished projects shouldn't make me feel guilty. 

I know I have a lot of really creative people who read my blog, is there any project you just want to scrap but feel guilty doing so?

November 30, 2010

Mid-1800s/ Civil War Era Marriage Proposals

Marriage in the mid-1800s was complex. Marriages were not jut the joining of a man and a woman but a joining of families, businesses, jobs, and wealth. Love was not the only thing to consider in a marriage. A man was looking for an agreeable woman who could take care of his house and raise his family and a woman was looking for a breadwinner.

Many couples married because the situation was pleasing to them even if they were not in love with their spouses. Love was present in many marriages and love was the main reason a man would show interest in a lady.  

Many marriages occurred as a result of a young man writing  his future bride's father indicating his intentions, line of work, and bank contents.

Marriages were not necessarily arranged but general opinion of the time was that young ladies should not have to suffer the embarrassment of making a split-second decision that she might not think through properly or to hurt a gentleman's feelings by rejecting him in person.  It was proper at the time for a rejection to be business-like and the proposal not mentioned by any of the parties afterward.Only if a gentleman was very good friends with a lady would he ask her before her parents.

It was also acceptable for a gentleman to ask a friend to propose the match to the lady or her father. If the gentleman knew that his advances were accepted, he could write a letter asking the young lady herself or ask her in person. If a gentleman was not sure, he was to write a letter to her father and pray that her father liked him.    

Rings were used during some proposals, simple bands were common and only very wealthy gentlemen gave rings with diamonds. The ring was a sentimental token of a gentleman's affection, intended to only be special to the lady, not necessarily valuable. 

Some Marriage Proposals from "How to Do it," by John H. Tingley published in 1864.

















November 27, 2010

1855 Quilt Pattern

Civil War Quilt Pattern
I can't quilt. I am practicing on the simplest of Civil War quilt patterns the one that is used for Sanitary Commission "comforts." You can see that simple pattern at The Home of the Brave Quilt Project.  The Sanitary Commission was a group of Civilians during the Civil War who worked together to bring sanitary conditions to union camps. They also held fundraisers and made supplies to send to the Union Army. Of these supplies they sent thousands of quilts. They tended to use simple quilt patterns because quantity and functionality was more important than beauty.

My attempts with that simple pattern have left me with uneven quilt pieces, pieces that don't line up and fabric that frays until it is nonexistent. That being said, if I could quilt, I would make this pretty quilt pattern from 1855.


It will never happen as the pattern calls for silk and the black cross outlines are made from velvet sewn on top of the finished quilt. How pretty would that be? I don't think I've ever seen a silk quilt, but I imagine it would be very smooth to the touch and the velvet would be soft.I also like the colors that the pattern calls for, they really weren't afraid of contrasting color, were they?   I have always really loved quilts but I just don't have the ability to piece all those pieces together properly. But for those you who can quilt and would enjoy sleeping under a piece of art, this pattern would be lovely and I would love to see the finished product.    


***The Home of the Brave quilt project is actually really interesting. The organization collects quilts made by civilians and sends them to families who have had a loved one die in combat. It is a cool project to be involved with if you can quilt.***

November 24, 2010

A Civil War Thanksgiving: 1862 Turkey Recipe and Cranberry Sauce Recipe

This is a continuation of my last two Civil War Thanksgiving posts:

Note that bread stuffing, sausage, and oysters were popular kinds of stuffing for turkey. Turkeys were typically boiled, roasted, or baked almost exactly like we do today. Turkeys were typically a lot smaller back then, a 10 pound turkey was typical. 20 pound turkeys were reserved for large parties.  

 
Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Ingredients:

-         1 Quart Cranberries, washed
-         1 Cup Water
-         1 cup Brown Sugar

Directions:

            Simmer Cranberries and Water covered over low heat for 30- 40 minutes. Stir occasionally. Stir in Brown Sugar until melted, remove from heat and let cool.If you wish to serve it in a mold, soften 2 tablespoons of unflavored gelatin in half of the water for one minute. Add to the Cranberries. Once you are done adding the Sugar, pour mixture into a greased mold and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

November 22, 2010

A Civil War Thanksgiving: 1857 Turkey Stuffing Recipe


This is a continuation of my last post. I thought if I was giving a recipe for plum pudding, I might as well give a period recipe for bread stuffing, cranberry sauce and maybe even turkey. Stuffing is my favorite part of Thanksgiving. It is the only part of the year that we make it here and despite what you'd think-- most stuffing mixes have dried turkey fat in them (which I can't eat because I am a vegetarian.)

  
Stuffing for Turkeys

Ingredients:

-         ½ lb. Suet, chopped fine
-         ½ lb. Bread Pieces (half of a normal bread loaf,) chopped small
-         1 Tablespoon Parsley, chopped fine
-         ½ teaspoon Thyme
-         ½ teaspoon Marjoram
-         1 pinch of Nutmeg
-         1 teaspoon Lemon Peel, grated
-         Salt and Pepper to taste
-         2 Eggs
-         1 small Onion, chopped fine

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut bread into small pieces and place on a cookie sheet.
  2. Bake bread for five minutes or until toasted.
  3. Let bread cool.
  4. Once bread is cooled place in a large mixing bowl along with all seasonings, Onion, Suet, and Eggs, mix well.
  5.  Stuff mixture into Turkey to bake or
    1. Sauté in a medium sauce pan for 5 minutes on low heat.
    2. Add one cup of boiling water and increase to medium-high heat.
    3.  Stir occasionally until mixture boils.
    4. Remove from heat once the mixture boils.
    5. Lightly fluff the mixture with a fork.
    6. Cover and let sit about 5 minutes.  

There is a funny story about stuffing that I can relate to you because my boyfriend's mother doesn't read my blog and would probably laugh at this if she did. Three years ago, when Andy and I started dating, Andy told his mother how much I loved stuffing and how it was pretty much the only thing I eat on Thanksgiving. So his mother, in pure Pennsylvania Dutch style, made me 10 pounds of stuffing! :D It was so heavy.

So I brought it to my house and we opened it up and my grandmother says "Oh, no! She gave you the wrong dish!" So I looked in and she was right "Oh, she gave me the mashed potatoes!" I said. Andy ran over alarmed, looked in and said "No-- that's stuffing."

"No, it's potatoes." Grandma and I chimed in together.

Andy looked at us blankly and said "Uh, that's what stuffing is."

Potato stuffing was something we had never heard of here. Does anyone else use potato stuffing?



November 20, 2010

A Civil War Thanksgiving: 1865 Plumb-Pudding Recipe

 
By the 1860s, Thanksgiving was a widely known celebration but was still not a national holiday. Most states celebrated it on on a different day and it was more popular up North. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln made it a national holiday. Turkey, pumpkin pie, apple pie and cranberry sauce were popular items.

These items were precooked and mailed to the soldiers in crates. The soldiers were pleased to receive these prepared items, even if they had been traveling in crates for a few weeks because these were items the soldiers couldn't prepare for themselves in the field. The mailing systems were sympathetic tho the soldiers and most agreed to send Thanksgiving packages addressed to the troops for free.







 THANKSGIVING FOR THE SOLDIERS.

              "IN the general preparations for the festivities of the day, our soldiers have not been forgotten.What magnificent preparations have been made for them,-- our brave boys in the field and on the march! What generous donations, what inspiring toil have been called forth by the announcement that our soldiers are all to share in the joys of the day, -- that turkeys and other poultry in vast quantities, plumb-puddings and pies "that no man could number," and jellies and fruits in unlimited profusion are to be forwarded to the armies of the North for that day, until no soldier shall be found who has not partaken.

             In this State alone, --and other States have undoubtedly been as generous, -- forty thousand turkeys, already cooked and garnished, have been sent forward, all vying with one another to see who shall do the most. One generous, energetic man has alone cooked sixteen hundred of the noble fowl, others one thousand, others five hundred, others still lesser numbers ; but all the ovens in our large cities have been in use night and day. Single individuals have given turkeys by the hundred, and pies by the thousand. The stream of good things that poured into the depot for our soldiers has been full and deep and wide. Steamers of the largest size have been loaded to the brim and sent on their way, one after another, and still the tide of gifts pours in and is speeding on its way to our brave boys. Not one shall be neglected, -- not one but shall be satisfied.
   
              May the blessing of our heavenly Father descend in rich showers on the givers and the receivers! May the soldier at his camp-fire, in his tent, on his lonely picket-guard, on his weary march, remember home and friends on that day, as we shall remember them, and be happy!"



1865 Recipe for Plumb Pudding

Ingredients:

-1 1/4 lbs. (1 ½ Cups) Raisins
- ½ lb. (¾ Cups) Dried Currants
- 1/2 lb. (¾ Cups) Candied Orange Peel
- 3/4 lbs (3 Cups) Bread Crumbs (make fresh)
- 3/4 Lb Suet
- 8 Eggs
-  ¼ Cup Brandy
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Butter

To be done 3 days in advance:

1. Cut the Raisins in half. Mince the Suet. Cut the Candied Orange Peel in thin slices, if not already sliced. Mix all Raisins, Suet and Orange Peel in a medium sized bowl.
2. Beat the Eggs in a separate bowl and mix with the Brandy.
3.  Pour the Egg Mixture into the Dry Mixture.  
 
4.  Butter and sprinkle a layer of Sugar in a pudding mold. Press mixture firmly into a mold. (If your mold does not a lid with a handle, you must set the mold in a bag.*. Be sure when you are boiling that the open part of the bag remains out of the pot to use as a handle. Alternatively, some puddings can be made straight in a floured bag, without a mold.)

5. Place the bag in boiling water.  Make sure that the tied part of the bag is kept out of the water, some people prefer to attach a loose string from the tied part of the bag to something sturdy in the kitchen such as a cabinet. Continue to boil for 5 or 6 hours.  

6. Once boiled, hang the bag, with a large bowl underneath to catch the juice until the day you will be serving it.

7. On the day you will be serving it, boil the bag again for 2 hours.  Once done, remove from boiling pot and let cool. Once cool flip out the pudding onto an oven safe dish.

8. Place decoration in the center of the pudding. On Christmas, it is traditionally a sprig of holly.

9.  Ladle a circle of extra Brandy around the pudding. Light the extra Brandy on fire and bring to the table flaming.    


* A bag is made out of a square piece of fabric, rubbed on one side with Butter and Flour. The putting is placed in the center and the sides of the fabric are brought into the center and tied tightly with a string. 

 
The pudding sounds very interesting. I've never had plum pudding. I was kind of surprised that few recipes actually call for plums. Some food historians claim that many old recipes leave out the ingredients that would have been obvious to the people making them. I disagree, throughout all of my research, when I found recipes that didn't call for something I thought it should, I have found that those recipes did make something correct, we just call it something different now or it was just made differently in the past.

For example, I found a "White Gingerbread" recipe that did not call for any ginger. One food historian claimed that "they" knew to put ginger it in. But on examination, the recipe didn't make what we call Gingerbread at all--it made marzipan. I don't doubt that cooks adapted recipes to fit their taste, adding and removing ingredients but I think most recipes included the main ingredients.  Has anyone found any recipes that leave out something important? I'd love to see if people really did leave out ingredients that should have been obvious to cooks.

*Quote from The Ladies' Repository (Boston: A. Tompkins, 1865), 240-241.

November 17, 2010

Irish Calligraphy


Irish (Gaeilge) is very different from English, there are only 18 letters to work with and yet the letters can make many sounds. The sounds even differ from county to county, confusing! Irish started to decline in Ireland during the 1800s. In the late 1800s, the British stopped teaching Irish in schools in Ireland in an attempt to make the Irish more British. Irish during this time was typically used by only the poor who were more likely to emigrate from Ireland, leaving very few speakers in Ireland.


I found this writing style in an Irish primer published in the 1840s. I thought it was very pretty and decided to map it out in case someone wanted to use it for Christmas cards. Sorry, the second chart is a little hard to read, my printer is broken.  English can be written using Irish letters with a little bit of imagination, for example, Andrew has to be written as "Andriu," and Mary as "Mari" or "Muire." It's a very pretty writing style it is readable to us but is still a little ancient looking.
 
Nollaig Shona Duit (pronounced  "No- lihg HO- nah ditch") roughly translates as "Happy Christmas." If you want to say "Happy Christmas" to more than one person it would be Nollaig Shona Daoibh (pronounced "No-lihg HO-nah dih-ve.)







*Note: Excerpt from "A Primer of the Irish Language" from the College of St. Columba, published in 1845.

November 11, 2010

The Tax on Light and Air


In a Colonial Era house, windows were the main source of light. Candles used sparingly and fires were too hot in the summer.

On December 31st 1695, a tax on windows was established by Parliament. This was a way for Parliament to create a tax, based proportionally on income without admitting it was an income tax.  The idea of an income tax during the 1700s was extremely controversial. The window tax was the source of many 18th century grievances and was known widely as “the tax on light and air” and “the tax on the absence of property (as a window is a lack of brick.)”

By the 1750s, the window tax had been updated so that any house not considered a cottage was subject to a tax of 1 shilling for every window, plus a 3 shilling flat rate.  Houses with less than 7 windows only had to pay the 3 shilling tax. Unfortunately, this affected factories, multifamily homes, and inns disproportionally and many poorer families could not afford them.  

Many newer house styles at the time, reflected the window tax by excluding windows in their design and many people blocked up windows to avoid the tax.  Poorer families felt singled out as they could only afford to buy older houses which were in the older styles and thus had more windows and bigger taxes. Many families blocked up some of the windows in in their homes, usually at the back of the house, to avoid the extra taxes.  

Tired of taxes? During the 18th century, British territories also had a hearth tax, poll tax, carriage tax, horse tax, farm horse tax, “inhabited house” tax, servants’ tax, clock and watch tax, cart tax and even a dog tax, among others.  

You can really see why their was so many grievances and why taxation without representation was such an injustice. The British subjects were expected to fund all projects that the King and Parliament deemed important regardless of what the laboring people, making the money, had to say. Believe it or not, American subjects were exempted from a lot of these taxes or paid them in a different manner (tax on glass instead of counted windows.) Americans were afraid that these taxes were slowly being forced upon them.