September 29, 2010

Civil War Dancing Curtsy and Dance Position Instructions


'"As to flirtation," continues this sage instructor in morals and manners, ''it is difficult to draw a limit where the predilection of the moment becomes the more tender and serious feeling, and flirtation sobers into a more honorable form of devoted attention. I think flirtation comes under the head of morals more than of manners; still I may be allowed to say that ballroom flirtation, being more open, is less dangerous than any other. But a young lady of taste will be careful not to flaunt and publish her flirtation, as if to say, ' See, I have an admirer !' In the same way a prudent man will never presume on a girl's liveliness or banter. No man of taste ever made an offer after supper, and certainly nine-tenths of those who have done so have regretted it at breakfast the next morning."' ~Harper's Magazine 1860

Dances and balls were at their height in the mid-1800s.  Many conservative people at the time thought balls were only good for introducing sin to young people. Despite that many people loved dances: a dance with under 50 participants was considered "a dance," a dance with under 100 people but more than 50 was considered "a ball," and a dance with over 100 people was considered "a large ball."

Tickets to public dances held in public halls could be bought in advance. Dance cards were frequently printed with the tickets. The cards listed the songs which would be played and the dances that would accompany them. The cards had spaces for dancing partners to write their names to reserve dances. It was considered polite to not dance with the same partner more than once or twice if you were engaged or married. This is much different from our view today, where we normally go to a dance with one person and stay with them the entire night.

The point of dances were to have a good time and to converse with people that you didn't see all of the time. The sentiment at the time was that if you stayed with one person all night you were monopolizing yourselves and denying everyone else the company of both of you. There were many group dances that would allow every lady to dance with every man throughout the course of the dance. This seems like a good arrangement because couples, although at the same dance, could have different experiences at the dance that they could share with each other after.
Dances and dinners that observe the separating of couples are quite refreshing.  I met a lady at a reenactment who said that a girl asked if she could dance with her husband. The lady said she was appalled and didn't know what to do and that she felt foolish after she found out that it was a common period request. It is a weird sensation to us today, but one that should probably be more common. Sometimes it seems that when two people get married or become a couple that they suddenly become removed from their friends and stopped getting invited out. I know many couples who dislike only being invited out on "couples outings" or "date nights." To quote a friend of mine, "We're married, not dead."

Other Posts of Interest:
**Please remember to enter my contest, the drawing will be held on October 5th!**

September 28, 2010

Brandywine Revolutionary War Reenactment

 The Brandywine Reenactment last weekend was great! There were over 700 soldiers. It was definitely one of the bigger reenactments. We met a lot of people who flew over from Britain just to be a part of it. The leader of the Crown Forces was a Scotsmen, I heard some reenactors saying they couldn't understand a word he was saying. :D There were tons of sutlers, a lot of cavalry and even a bagpiper!

The first day was really hot but still lovely and the next day it was cloudy and rained a little bit. The humidity in the air kept the smoke from the muskets close to the ground. It was very neat to see. We even saw smoke rings being blown from the muskets and huge smoke rings blown from the cannon.

The rain didn't deter people. There were tons of spectators and reenactors. 

We had fun, although we got lost on the way there and almost lost a tire (long story, that has something do do with only half of the roads having roadsigns and many others having repeat names.) We didn't end up sleeping over, I was feeling sick. We still had a great time and the battlefield was great, it was a huge field with a big stone wall and a little bit of forest.

**Please remember to enter my contest, the drawing will be held on October 5th!**

September 23, 2010

My Les Miserables Post-- You Get to Hear Me Sing! Be Afraid.

It's Les Miserables Week at Send Me A Song by Anna Olivia.  

I had a hobby in 3rd grade, it was Les Miserables. I know that sounds weird but I really loved the storyline and the characters. I was in love with the musical. I had a collection of Les Miserables concert T-shirts and I went though a phase where I would only wear them in rotation.

My best friend and I used to play a game where one of us would mime out the scenes and the other would try to guess the scene the other was acting out. It was intense! For our elementary school talent show, I sang Castle on a Cloud and my friend accompanied me on cello. When we got to middle school, we opted to take French because that's what they spoke in Les Miserables!

I read Les Miserables when I was younger and I am currently reading it now. It is broken up into 5 big chapters but those chapters are broken down into 365 sub-chapters. I am reading one sub-chapter everyday. It's been very enjoyable so far.  

So in commemoration of the story that was beloved now and in my childhood I put together a one minute clip. The clip is of me singing "I Dreamed a Dream," which I found on my computer. I remember singing that clip, it was sometime during high school and I was practicing for musical tryouts. I only have one minute recorded unfortunately but I guess it's still a good tribute. :D I was planning on singing a full song, I even tried to rope Andy into it--never before in my life have I had the perfect tenor Marius... but it was no use, it has just been far too busy. I wish it was better--sorry, be sure to turn your speakers down.

September 22, 2010

Happy Birthday! Blog Giveaway!

A year ago to the day, I was sitting around writing my very first blog post on this blog. This isn't my first blog, it's actually blog number 13, if you can believe it. In the early days of blogging, before facebook and twitter, there were "webblogs"-- yes it was that long ago. Blogger itself was launched in 1999 but I didn't start a blog until 2002. I feel the need to share with you my first post, when I was 14:

Thursday, March 14, 2002

Does this work?
I'd like to think I've come a long way. :D In those times, blogs were a bit different. It was a way to let people know what you were up to or point out interesting things that you found on the internet. There were barely any photos on anyone's blogs and backgrounds and headers were very plain. Most functioned as public journal entries, so your friends and family could comment. I am glad that now there are more interesting and creative blogs and less diary-style entries today. Blogging has become much more of a community today. 

So in commemoration of this blog's 1st anniversary, I will be hosting a giveaway. The prizes are a set of artists pencils and two 18 1/2 x 18 1/2 "mini quilt" kits. Here are the rules:

  • Everyone can enter by writing a blog post about your favorite post that I have written and linking to it. I have a lot, explore those archives! Be sure to leave a comment on this post with a link to your post. If you don't have a blog but have a facebook or some other networking page, make a note on it linking to a blog post of mine. This will get you 1 entry. Make sure to leave a comment on my blog with your entry link so I know.
  •  Everyone who is currently on my followers list will get 2 bonus entries-- there are 56 of you.
  •  People who currently comment on my blog frequently will get 2 more bonus entries--there are 5 of you.
  • The first place winner will get to choose which prize they want first then the second. 
You may be wondering why I am giving those who are followers more entries. They have been a real part of keeping this blog alive and it wouldn't exist without them. I will not be giving new followers extra entries because I do not want followers who do not like to read my blog, although if you like my blog, please join! Quality is more important to me than quantity.   

The drawing will be held on October 1st, please get your entries in before then!

September 21, 2010

Civil War Reenactment at the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation-- Warning: Photo Heavy

Normally the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation focuses on the 18th century, but last weekend they took a break and allowed us 19th century reenactors take over. If you've ever been there, you wouldn't even recognize it.

The house was furnished with 19th century pieces and displays of period dresses.

 The dresses were gorgeous and though I can't even imagine, all belonged to the same lovely lady! 

 Wash dress and day dress.

Morning wrapper with black undersleeves. The undersleeves slide under the large pagoda sleeves and are tied or fastened with elastic at the elbow. The undersleeves, which are more apt to get dirty can be washed without having to launder the whole dress.
The master bedroom. The washbasin and pitcher were just beautiful.

The childrens bedroom. I love the chamberpot box.

The kitchen, along with the two ladies of the house for the weekend.

Cannon are a rare sight at the plantation but these men dragged this piece out to the field. 

It overall was a fun event. Everyone had a good time. During the first battle, the animals on the farm were caught in the crossfire. It was very neat to see sheep and chickens scattering at the advance of an army.  For a reenactment, you can't ask for a more interesting battlefield. There are houses, barns, animals and gardens which all become a part of the battles. It is much more interesting than most places in which the reenactment takes place on an empty field. I especially love that the spectators are so close. Some of the soldiers accidentally even broke through the crowd.

September 17, 2010

A Glimpse into Everyday Life in London in the 1850s

" The London-road district, being the name given to that portion of the town under my direction, contains a population of about 30,000. It is bounded upon one side throughout its whole course (say the distance of a mile and a half) by the river Medlock, a black filthy ditch, into which the inhabitants upon its borders or the various manufactories in its course, consisting of dye and chemical works, pour all their superabundant filth. Innumerable privies, connected with the back of long terrace ranges of private dwellings, empty themselves into the same source; in fact, it is the eliminating channel for all who can reach its banks to pour off every nuisance, liquid or solid. The opposing side of the district is bounded by the Rochdale Canal, nearly throughout the same extent."- Report of the General Board of Health on the Epidemic Cholera of 1848 & 1849

London was known to be the place of high society, it was also known for its huge slums. Due to the large body of poor people in London, the rich had no shortage of servants. Below are some excerpted tips for servants from Murray's Modern Domestic Cookery, written in 1851. Many of the tips were strange and others came from common folklore of the time.
This is an interesting look into life in London during the 1850s. Not only do many families have servants but the servants would have a much bigger job than just cooking and cleaning. Can you imagine trying to muzzle a rat?
Modern wool will not help heal burns unless you can find wool that hasn't had the lanolin washed out of it. Lanolin is naturally produced in glands of sheep. It is commonly thought to be an oil but is actually a wax. The wax helps the sheep keep their coats clean and subsequently will keep any garment made from the wool, waterproof. It is currently used in hand creams, rust-proof coatings, instrument lubricants and has been shown to heal superficial wounds.

The National Druggist, published in 1905 claims this tip to be false. It said that this test would only show you if a mushroom was bad. 

  Thieves' Vinegar was once thought to protect from the plague. Folklore states that in a small village after an outbreak of the plague in the late 1700s, thieves were caught robbing the village dead. The thieves shared the recipe for their secret vinegar which allowed them to rob the dead without catching the plague in return for their lives. There may be some truth to the properties of the vinegar. The ingredients are known to be antibacterial and many people use a similar recipe today for disinfecting surfaces.

September 15, 2010

Bloom! Magazine: An Online Magazine for Christian Teen Girls

The first issue of Bloom! Magazine came out today. It is a magazine for Christian teens written by Christian teens and is absolutely free. I told the staff that I would review it for them and possibly interview one of them for my blog, but I wanted to wait until I read the magazine in its entirety. I am happy to say that I am more than enthusiastic about the results, the girls did a great job. I don't mean that they did a great job for teenagers--they did a great job for anyone.

The magazine covers topics like recipes, school (home schooled and not) tips, hairstyles, devotions, testimonies and interviews. I am very pleased that there are magazines like this that promote good values. I am appalled when I walk through the grocery store and see half naked women on the covers who have been airbrushed to the point that if you really stare at them, they proportionally don't even look like humans anymore (artists notice these things.) Tessa at Buttons 'N' Woodenspoons wrote a good post about this a while back.

The magazine is having a photography contest and takes submissions from girls between the ages 12-19. I know of many talented writers who should submit their writing (you know who you are. Yes, you.) I encourage everyone to share their knowledge and experiences with others. 

Check out the magazine and let them know what you think. I personally have to like it because one author used the term "world turned upside down," in her article--just kidding. :D         

September 14, 2010

Simple Irish Phrases

Andy and I had our first Irish class. I thought I'd share a few simple Irish phrases with you.  We are learning the Ulster dialect (County Donegal.) The dialects really do change a lot!

The fist thing we learned to say was "Dia duit."
  •  It is pronounced "Gee a dutch." We have heard it pronounced in other dialects as "Gee a ditch," and "Gee a dwhit." 
It is how they say "hello" but literally means "God to you."

The response to "Dia duit" is "Dia is Muire duit." 
  • This is pronounced as "Gee a smore a dutch."
It means "God and Mary to you."

We also learned "Slán leat."
  • It is pronounced "Slahn lot"
It means "Goodbye," and is said by the person leaving. The person staying says "Slán agat."
  • This is pronounced "Slahn ahg-ot."
I hope you enjoyed! We had fun even though it is really hard and confusing.

September 11, 2010

Civil War Recipes for September

Now that it is getting cold, I can't wait to watch the leaves change and smell the smoky, cool breezes at night. Woolly sweaters and camaraderie around fires, hot chocolate and crisp ripe apples will soon be a reality. Autumn is my favorite season.

Now that it is getting cooler, I will start cooking good warm food. We've been avoiding using the stove and oven so we don't make the house unnecessarily hot. I have been itching to cook.  

 Here are some Civil War Era Receipts from Cookery for English Households written in England in 1864:

 *The broth should be beef broth. 

Yum, vegetable soup with rice. That is going to be delicious. For more period receipts, please visit my post from last year, Civil War Receipts for the Fall. Those recipes are from Godey's Lady's Book. Enjoy!

September 10, 2010

Civil War Sontag Update

I've come to the point where I have pretty much run out of yarn and need to order more. So for next week I think I will be experimenting with different border options.

I really thought it was going to be too small but I can see now, that once I add the border, it should fit nice and snug. If I ever make another one, I'd make the back part about 3 blocks or so longer. I can probably stretch it out a bit when I block it so it will work out.

Would you believe I've never actually blocked anything I've knitted before? I always mean to and end up wearing it before I get a chance. So I am not even exactly sure how to block I was told to wet whatever I was working on and safety pin it to a towel in the shape I want. Is that the best way? Is there other ways to block knitting?

Here is a knitting pattern from 1840 for a "Bosom Friend," it is similar to a sontag. Before I start knitting, I draw out a projection of how the knitted piece should look. Having a "map" helps me see any mistake I make a lot quicker. Sometimes my projections aren't perfect but they normally are close in shape if not in exact proportions.  

It looks a little sailor-like to me but I can see how it would be cute over a dress from the 1840s.  It would just cover the parts of the neck that was left bare at that time.

It looks like it would be a slightly easier thing to knit than a sontag. It would probably be a very cute item for a child.

I hope you are all knitting away and not at a stop in your sontags like I am. Has anyone practiced any interesting border patterns?

September 7, 2010

Re-embracing Simplicity

I am constantly struggling with simplifying my life. I tend to keep the house neat and my bedroom full of “creative chaos.”  I think that bedrooms shouldn’t be held to the same standard as the rest of the house because they are very personal spaces. Your bedroom is your cocoon from the world so most of the clean house rules just don’t apply.

I unconsciously pile things up, books, laundry, school things, and projects are all in piles on my desk and floor. I don’t have any entirely empty surface space in my room which I like to have on my computer desk so I can type while still having a few books opened on it. I am not really fond of clutter but I know that it is necessary sometimes and that it accumulates often. I have a theory that the thing that is so relaxing about going on vacation is the fact that there is barely anything in your hotel room. The minute you walk in, the only thing in your hotel room is a Bible. 

I tend to have to have a bunch of things out at once. I always have some kind of sewing, knitting, drawing, writing, musical and reading things around. If I put them away, I will never work on them. However; about twice a year, my room becomes so cluttered that even the scatter-brained me can’t think in there and I need to weed out the cluttering items. My big plan is to eventually just have a place for everything and for all of the piles to be slightly smaller.  

My “Rules” on Clutter (of which I am constantly reminding myself.)

  • An object can do you no good if you cannot find it when you need it. If your books are boxed up and it would take you a few months to find the book you need, they aren’t worth keeping around, write down their titles and donate them. I always keep books I use all of the time out where I can access them easily.
  • Do not keep any object that you do not think you will not use within the next three years—(I think one year is really short because one year I might be really into gardening and the next year, sewing, but I will probably cycle back to gardening in a year or two.) Exceptions to this rule are expensive items which you will likely use in the future such as computer equipment or hobby equipment (fishing rods, picnic baskets, paints.) 
  • It is selfish to keep an item that you have no use for when someone else can be using and enjoying it. For example: There is clothing from high school that I’d like to keep because I think it is pretty, but I don’t wear it now and it just hangs in the closet. I’d much rather see my younger sister and other people wear and enjoy it rather than keeping squirreled away. Exceptions are things that have sentimental value; I still have the skirt that I wore when I met Andy, even though I’d never wear it today.
  • Is the cost of an item worth more than the stress it takes to keep and maintain it? Sometimes I find myself constantly tripping over an item or moving it back and fourth in a room because it has no place to go. I have to ask myself if those items are really that important. If I can’t find a place for them it is just extra stress to clean around those items and the clutter just adds to mental stress.
  • Don’t keep anything that is beyond repair. I have very relaxed views on what beyond repair is. If something is repairable, I will repair it—Andy can attest to the various surgeries we have performed on his ipod. I need to remind myself that things that can’t be repaired or would not be cost efficient to repair need to be thrown out. Sometimes things are broken for long enough that I realize that I have found a viable substitute for it anyway.      

September 5, 2010

Remember Macrame? Watch-Guard from Peterson's Magazine

"Charlotte and Sophia affectionately threw around his neck a watch guard the result of their joint industry..." - A Gift Book of Stories and Poems for Children

Watch-guards were used to keep a pocket watched securely attached to a man. Watches were expensive in the mid 1800s and a big item for pickpockets. When robbing someone, pickpockets could be sure that the victim has at least a watch from seeing a watch chain, but a watch-guard hung the watch around the neck, keeping it more discrete.  

When I was in elementary school, I remember getting a book out of the library that taught macrame, this was the only pattern I learned. I was surprised that when I saw this watch-guard pattern, that I could still do it relatively simply. The instructions recommend securing one end of your word down in front of you and tying a ribbon around your waist to tuck the end strings in. I wish I had thought of that, I always just sit on the ends with makes for some interesting posture while knotting. Modern instructions with good pictures can be found at Handcrafted by Elaine. I was going to post a tutorial but this one is very easy to understand.  Be sure to use the "square knot" instructions.

A watch guard is a good gift for a gentleman, especially if he's a "soldier." At reenactments, the men frequently have to know what time it is but don't want to lose their watches in the field when they will never find them again. Historically, this was a popular gift, it was a chance for a lady to show off her skills while giving a gentlemen something useful which also demonstrated a concern for his safety.  

"Lucy had been sitting up nearly all the night finishing a watch guard for her father." - True Briton


Similar to a watch-guard chain, this "fork" or lucet makes an interesting, square-shaped cord. Those of us that are knitting sontags have the option to make their cord on a lucet or by crocheting it, both are historically accurate options. I am thinking of trying to use a lucet as not many people normally have lucet braiding on their clothing. 

There is a good video on how to use a lucet here. It turns out, you don't actually need a lucet to do this, so I plan to try and make one out of cardboard and see if it works. I think I may practice by making a "neck chain" like it says in the instructions. I love hairwork so a chain that looks like hairwork will probably look very pretty. 

Copyright © 2008-2020 Stephanie Ann Farra. All rights reserved.

All materials posted on this site are subject to copyrights owned by Stephanie Ann Farra. Any reproduction, retransmissions, or republication of all or part of any document found on this site is expressly prohibited, unless the author has explicitly granted its prior written consent to so reproduce, retransmit, or republish the material. All other rights reserved.