Nostalgic Home

A Vintage View of Homekeeping

And speaking of love… February 12, 2009

Filed under: Crafting,Jane Austen — LotusMama @ 9:00 am
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I just had to share my Darcy and Elizabeth pillowcases with you. darcyelizpillowsAwhile back (like last February), I found these great vintage pillowcases with crochet trim at the thrift store. They’ve been hanging out in my craftroom since then, until I started reading Kayte Terry’s Complete Embellishment. In her book, Ms. Terry has a pattern for “Lord and Lady” pillowcases, which are silhouettes with an oval border, appliqued to pillowcases.

Being the cross-over fiend that I am, I thought it would be fun to make a Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet set since my Jane Austen book group is reading Pride & Prejudice at the moment. Besides, they top my list of fictional lovers so why not whip something up around Valentine’s Day?

I dusted off those pillowcases and went about making my own felty versions of the silhouettes. My version has more applique going on – I added a third layer, leaves and flowers, and buttons. My shapes and colors look more like Mod Squad 20th century than Regency England, but I’m ok with that. These pillowcases are cheerful but for decoration only (who’d want to sleep on buttons – talk about pillowface…)

Here’s a couple of close-ups of Liz and Darcy:

elizpillowdarcypillowMr. D ended up a little askew on the pillowcase, but that actually makes me chuckle – the “real” Mr. Darcy would be aghast at being improper, but with his Elizabeth, he’ll suffer even this.

 

Lucky but old, you can’t have it all February 8, 2009

Filed under: Jane Austen,Yippee — LotusMama @ 1:18 pm
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I had such a wonderful birthday, which I wisely strung out over two days. Sure, getting older isn’t any fun but the rest of the birthday stuff certainly makes up for it. Friday, I had a lovely bit of fondue with my hubby and a quiet evening watching British comedy. Saturday, my family gathered for some seafood (I had grilled shrimp and scallops – delish!) and then a generous helping of my mother’s wonderful Black Forest cake. Kirsch brandy, sweet cherries, whipped cream, chocolate cake….wow, what a wonderful dessert.

As if all this wonderment wasn’t enough, I received gifts that were tailor made. Hubby found a full set of Jane Austen hardcover books for me, which are even now right next to me on my desk. My sister and brother-in-law picked out the exact skirt I had lusted over at a shop called Torrid, so that was an excellent surprise. My grandmother found some wonderful British treats for me – turkish delight, cherry jelly, almond and cherry tea….Mmmmmm.

My folks added to the British theme with a lovely necklace featuring Anne Boleyn, a brown betty tea pot (looks like this if you haven’t seen one – how cute is that!):

a204-66cbrownbettyAnd if that weren’t enough, my mom made a gorgeous drawing of Jane Austen for me, which is already in a place of honor above my sewing table. janeausten

Yep, it was one swell birthday and it reminded me of just how I lucky I am. Truly, I am so grateful for my wonderful family. Not only do they know me so well (and love me in spite of that), but they have the infinite grace not to mention all the gray hair that another year has brought to me.

Can you get luckier than that? I think not.

*Brown betty pot photo found here.

 

Toad in the Hole and Bubble & Squeak January 26, 2009

Filed under: Cooking,Jane Austen,Vintage Recipes — LotusMama @ 9:18 am
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How do things get their names? One day Ogg discovers the flamey thing on a piece of wood and decides to call it fire? Someone happens to mix together chocolate, eggs, flour and comes up with Devil’s Food? I’m always wondering how things became and how they were named. Looking back, even just into culinary history, I have to wonder about the discovery of yeast, the creation of souffle and eating really stinky cheese. How sad that the person who figured out the right proportions of fat and flour to make pastry is lost to time. Unlike more modern kitchen creations, we don’t have magazine articles and contest winners to tell us the cook behind chicken and dumplings or oatmeal cookies, but for some recipes we do have some really wonderful names.

Has anyone tried Toad in the Hole or Bubble and Squeak? Two English recipes with probably the best names ever. Toad in the Hole is sausages (containing no toad) that are cooked in Yorkshire pudding batter and Bubble & Squeak is mashed potatoes cooked with cabbage. Our Toady recipe is not to be confused with Eggs in a Basket, which is a fried egg cooked inside a piece of bread with a hole in the center. Toad in the Hole seems to have been around since the mid-1700s, and likely had a precursor of “pigeon in a hole” which actually did contain pigeon. Ahem. I’ll stick with toad…err…sausage. Although sausage can be….oh well, best not to think about it.

Another Brit gift in the world of interesting food names is Bangers and Mash. Quite simply large sausages and mashed potatoes, Bangers and Mash sounds far tastier (and even better if you put on a heavy British accent).

For those fond of Ms. Jane Austen and cheese (not necessarily in that order), why not give Welsh Rarebit a try (Apparently, she was a fan of “toasted cheese”, a cousin of this dish). No rarebit or rabbit is involved, merely loads of cheese, cream and some yummy toast. Why is it that the recipes with the best names are always so full of fat? Hmmmm.

Well, I’m off to fry up a little sausage for my own Toad in the Hole. If you know of any wonderfully wacky food names, please pass them on.

 

Bioluminescence, Tudor ghosts and Jane Austen the Sleuth – all before my coffee December 11, 2008

Filed under: Holidays,Jane Austen,Random Thoughts — LotusMama @ 5:07 pm
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I tend to get up before everyone else in my house. No matter how late I go to bed, I’m up first and I usually have an hour or so to myself. Typically, I spend it on the computer, surfing. I follow up on random thoughts, check out obscure news, add books to my library “to read” list – the usual kind of stuff.

But today I was a bit weirder than usual. I started with checking airfare rates to London and tour packages – mind you, there is no way I’m going to be able to go any time soon, but what the heck, I can dream, right? BTW, British Airway has $1100 tickets if you are looking to fly in May. There are also some great tour packages to Derbyshire here.

Ok, so that little jaunt led me to reminisce about a family vacation many years ago to Hampton Court Palace (Henry VIII’s old digs). So I pulled up the website and prowled around there for awhile. Interesting photos and articles about the palace and a reference to a recent ghost sighting. Wait, what? I didn’t hear about that.

So, off to youtube to find the CCTV video of the ghost. . Even a guest at the palace that day saw it so it must be true, right?

A little more reading about other spots we saw on our family vacation (Tower of London, villages in Southern England, Stonehenge – it was an amazing trip) got me thinking about visiting Derbyshire – the gorgeous scenery in the latest Pride and Prejudice movie. Well, since I won’t be traveling soon I thought I’d check the library for any books on the subject. That search found me a series of novels where Jane Austen is the detective in murder mysteries. Yeah, there really is no historic person left in the world who hasn’t been turned into a sleuth. Ben Franklin, Elizabeth I, Jane Austen…I’m sure there is a Dolly Madison or Prince Phillip mystery out there somewhere in the world.

Ok, so at this point, I’m thinking about England, ghosts, Regency England and of course, Christmas. This leads me to do a little surfing on Christmas past and I read a little about the Twelve Days of Christmas (boy that song is annoying), which leads me to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, which leads me to an article that explains how bioluminescence could be why his nose glows so bright. So I guess that magic that makes him fly can’t handle glowing nostrils.

It’s an hour later and I’ve seen Henry VIII’s ghost, learned about glowing reindeer noses, added a likely cheesy novel to my “to read” list and planned a vacation to England. What did I ever do before the Internet? All I can say is God Bless Al Gore for inventing it.

 

Cranberry-Apple Crisp, why yes Mr. Darcy December 6, 2008

Filed under: Baking,Jane Austen,Random Thoughts — LotusMama @ 8:25 pm
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As much as I tout the wonderful taste that is pie, I have a soft spot in my stomach (one of many) for crisps. Crisps, crumbles, buckles, cobblers – all the fruity goodness that is covered with some kind of blanket of crust. Sure pie is popular, friendly, wonderful to dance with – like Mr. Bingley from Pride and Prejudice (ok, maybe not the dancing part) but crisps have more depth. They are crisp, tart, warm but with an outer layer to protect them, a Mr. Darcy of the dessert world. Ok, yes, I have been watching Pride and Prejudice and reading the book, what of it?

Not to lose an opportunity to find my culinary Darcy, I thought I’d give a cranberry-apple crisp a try. It was recommended by Cook’s Country, which I’m always partial to, and it has cranberries, which I love. So why not?

The ingredients are in my fridge right now, waiting for me to get off this computer and get to them. I’m behind schedule today, what with watching the Keira Knightly P&P again this morning (no, it isn’t the six hour Colin Firth splendor but it will certainly do). Right now, I have to run off to Home Depot for a reindeer for the front yard (NR’s request) and search out some ham shank for the klub. But I swear, after that, I’m ready for Darcy…er….the crisp. Honest.

*

Wow, I need help.

*Photo found at the New York Times