February 28, 2011

Guest Post: Rebecca Ann from Singing in His Name

Today we have a really great post featuring blogger and entrepreneur, Rebecca Ann.  Rebecca continues to inspire many people with her interesting and spiritually uplifting posts. 

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I am an almost 20 year old gal who loves life. I am a homeschool graduate of 2010. My parents decided to homeschool me when I reached 6th grade and I am ever grateful to them and the Lord for those great years of learning.  I strive to live a life of productivity and try to stay clear of things that are techy besides my laptop. I love all things old fashioned, vintage, and antique. I also am a strong believer in the Lord God of the universe who sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for my sins. He is the inspiration behind my Etsy store and I would never have gotten started sewing if it were not for His strength and encouragement from His Word and other believers around me. Without my faith in the Lord it would have never been possible to open the store.

What inspired you to open an Etsy shop?

I would say a number of things inspired me to open my store. First of all when I first heard of Etsy I was intrigued by all the homemade items! I said someday I would check off my bucket list that I was able to hand craft items for a store. I can't believe many years later I am actually opened and am enjoying sewing for my store. I used to hate to sew, but when my sister taught herself dress making and quilting I was very interested. So she inspired me as well to learn to sew and finally open my store. My mother also inspired me as she loves to make many types of crafts that are no sew and she was an encouragement as well telling me I should sell all those hand sewn items I made as gifts for my friends.

Where do you get the inspiration for things in your shop?

I would say blogs and books and my sisters sewing. With the internet there are so many blogs and places to find inspiration to sew coasters, banners, napkins, and other goodies. But especially the blog called Sew MaMa Sew inspired me to do a vintage theme for my shop. I love all things red, blue and vintage. So I got lots of inspiration from that blog as well as my sister’s love for red and blue in our craft/sewing room decor. So the theme of our sewing room is the same as my store, red and blue and vintage.

Other than sewing, what are some of your other hobbies?
Besides sewing, crocheting, and knitting, I love to do living history reenactments and sew clothing for myself and my family to wear to events. I also love sewing modern clothing and quilts as well as home decor cushions and curtains for our home. My first love before I learned to sew was music and I still love music! I am studying to be a voice major for college and enjoy singing and playing the piano at home and with friends. I also play the piano for the services at my church and enjoy doing so. I also enjoy cooking and baking with my sister and mother as well in our tiny kitchen. I also love visiting historic sites, homes, and museums in our area. We live on the east coast and there is so much history here. My family reenacts the Colonial Period (French and Indian war, as well as the Revolutionary War), the Civil War, and the War of 1812. So we get lots of inspiration from visiting historic sites and places. The other day we visited Mount Vernon and it was so inspiring! I also love thrifting and going shopping for bargains at the Goodwill or out of the way thrift stores. My mother and I love doing this together and we find a lot of antiques and vintage items for cheap.

Do you have any advice to anyone attempting to start their own crafting business?

My advice for others wanting to start a home business for crafting would be to try and share your crafts/sewing with your friends and family first. I have gotten a lot of interest from people from my church, family, and neighbors and friends in my area. So start small and maybe even don't do an Etsy store. Sell things to your friends and family or first give the crafts as gifts to people. My friends always receive handmade gifts, so they already see that I sew and do crafts and may want to buy something from me.

 I would also say “don't do it alone,” as you get inspiration or want to start sewing or crafting your items, ask for advice or opinions on the design or style of the items from friends and family. I was saved a lot of times by my sister when something just was not right or did not really cut it for the store.

 Also read a lot of blogs and view other Etsy stores or online stores to see how they do their business. You can get a lot of great ideas and advice from other Etsy or other store owners. Also if you want to start an Etsy store, add a lot of shops to your favorites list and items to your favorites. Then those sellers will add you to their favorites perhaps and buy something from you. I am also going to advertise in my local home school newsletter. So many people love that I am an entrepreneur and want to support me by buying my handmade products instead of made in china stuff.

Also do whip of some business cards or just some cards with your Etsy or business name on them. Then when you tell someone about it they don't have to remember the name in their head, they can see the address of the shop on the card. I am in the process of doing this right now.

All in all I am so grateful to Stephanie Ann for letting me do this guest post. I am very encouraged by her blog and her help by letting me share my Etsy store with you all. If you have any questions do come over to my blog here- http://singinginhisname.blogspot.com/ and leave a comment.

Thanks Rebecca! Please do visit her blog and Etsy Shop.

February 24, 2011

Curious Colonial Remedies and Cosmetics

During colonial times disease was the leading cause of death. Many people survived diseases but were severely physically scarred so it is not surprising that there was a lot of experimentation with remedies and cosmetics.  I am actually not sure if some of these are better or worse than the chemicals many of us put on our skin everyday.

Birch sap is used fir making birch beer and strawberry water sounds like it would work just as lemon does for the skin but orpiment (a toxic mineral that contains arsenic) and (::gulp::) frog-spawn water just sound crazy to me.

This receipt is not referring to real worms, but  clogged pores. Before the common access to microscopes, many people believed that the oil blockage of a pore was a worm. This believe was still present as late as the American Civil War when magazines were quick to point out that "ignorant persons" still believed it.

Even today some people swear by the whites of eggs to remove blackheads and using the plant Soloman's Seal (Polygonatum) to cure acne.

The vermin most likely meant in this recipes are fleas, lice and mosquitoes which were responsible for spreading many diseases and were also very annoying.  Ships often carried lice and every sailor and passenger on a ship with an outburst would eventually become infected. Stavesacre (line-bane) is very toxic and I don't think that honey would help keep the mosquitoes away.

In some places, especially at the beginning of the 1700s, it was common for people to share bowls and cups at the table. Dishes were not washed with soap, even in taverns where many people could have used the same cup all day.

*Note: The baby in the picture at the top is wearing a "pudding cap" which protected the heads of children while they were learning to walk.

February 18, 2011

The Fairy Waltz: A dance for that nameless time between the Regency Era and the Victorian Era.

"If there be room enough, the gentleman only holds his partner  the tips of the fingers.  Certainly the dance in question is danced in a far different way among the inferior orders of society, as they hold each other tight by the middle, and thus in each other's embrace go round like whirligigs. But this is no argument to condemn a dance, which I think is decent, harmless, and elegant.—The only objection I could ever see in the Waltz was, that the dancers were liable to get exceedingly dizzy, by repeated turning; but the dance is by no means indecent, as danced by the better sort of people, and it has the most brilliant effect.   
'No Puritan.' " -Sporting Magazine 1812

  When the Waltz first became popular in England and the U.S., it met with mixed reviews. Many people disliked dances in general, thinking that they were places rife with sin. There were many discourses on the evils of dancing but the Waltz was by far the most scandalous, popular dance of the time. Most dances were danced with many partners and therefore "social." Waltzes were really the first almost exclusive dances. The intimate nature of the dance had chaperons and parents watching like hawks.

The Fairy Waltz was published in 1825 as part of treatise on the dances of London. The accompanying dance is pretty easy and I hope to chart it sometime in the future.  The song that goes with the dance is very cheery. This would make a very good piece for a young lady to play while her friend's danced. I put the song into a MIDI file. The MIDI is very fast and I think it would best be played almost at half the speed of the MIDI file. 

February 15, 2011

Pasta and Rose Sauce Recipe

 I love this recipe Pasta with Rose Sauce is extremely delicious unfortunately (or fortunately) the only way to make it economically is to make it in bulk. Another unfortunate aspect of it is that it is probably not so healthy (doesn't it always work that way?) However it is an extremely tasty recipe and takes under 20 minutes to prepare and is great if you are trying to feed a lot of people on a small budget.

**Sauce is enough for about 3 Lbs of pasta.**

Pasta with Rose Sauce

- 4 teaspoons Minced Garlic
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Cups Crushed Tomatoes (1
- 5 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 2 Cups Heavy Cream
- 1/4 Cup Parsley, Chopped finely (more if you want some as a garnish.)
-  Shredded Parmesan (hardened Parmesan tastes better in this than fresh.) 

Pour the Olive Oil in a medium-sized saucepan and heat on medium heat. Saute the Minced Garlic in the Olive Oil until golden brown. Add the Crushed Tomatoes and Tomato Paste. Heat for 10 minutes, add Parsley and Heavy Cream and heat for an additional 5 minutes on low heat. Serve over Farfalle (Bow tie) Pasta, add a sprinkle of Parmesan Cheese and Parsley. 

Andy and I had this for our Valentine's Day Dinner which we had on Sunday and we both enjoyed it very much. My family has been using the sauce up for meals since and there's still some left over. The sauce is cream based, so I do not believe it will freeze well-- it rarely gets to that point anyway, my family attacks it. The fact that my family eats it is something in itself as most of them refuse to touch my cooking due to their very limited palates. :D 

February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day Cards

Giving valentines has been popular since the 1700s. They started out as slips of paper with messages on them but soon they began to be commercially produced in the mid 1800s.  By 1862, according to the New York Times in an article after the Civil War, 21,260 valentines were delivered to post offices in New York City even with the paper shortages caused by the war.

This number jumped to 86,213 in 1866. These numbers did not even include valentines mailed in envelopes. The 1867, article in the New York Times noted that the manufactured valentines had been using the same few poems had been using the same few poems and sentimental notes for at least 30 years prior.

Victorian Valentines were sentimental, comical and normally contained beautiful imagery. Mass produced cards often had spectacular artwork and were inserted in family photo albums.

 Some fun Valentine's Day Superstitions:

  •  In the late 1500s, it was thought that birds chose their mates on Valentine's Day.
  • In the 1770s it was thought that if a girl pinned five bay leaves to her pillow the night before Valentine's Day and she dreamed of her crush, that they would be married within the year. 
  • Another 1770s superstition was that if a girl put all of the names of her suitors on slips of paper and put them in water, the name on the slip of paper that rose to the top first would be her Valentine.
  • From the 1700s- 1870s it was believed that the first person you saw on Valentine's Day would be your Valentine.  
  • In Scotland in 1866, the young girls and boys would put their names into two separate boxes, if one person drew the name of another person three times, it was thought that the two would be married.
  • In the 1900s people believed that if a lady entertained gentlemen the night before Valentines Day, that she would soon lose her social standing.
  • Another superstition from the 1900s was if a girl looked through the keyhole of the hen house and saw a rooster and a hen together that she would be married during the year.
  • It was believed in the 1900s that if a lady went walking on Valentine's Day that she could predict who she was going to marry by the first bird that she saw: Blackbird: Clergyman, Robin or Sparrow: Sailor, Goldfinch: Millionaire, Yellow Warbler: a Wealthy man, Bluebird: a Poor man, Woodpecker: She would be an old maid.

A Valentine to Send to Your Valentines:

Read About the Language of Flowers.

February 11, 2011

Colonial Games: How to Play Leap Frog

Leap-frog is a game we used to play as very little kids. I don't think we ever really knew the rules but it was still fun. This is a game I probably could not play anymore.

This is played in a line of players, all players except the last one in the line, squat down with their hands on their thighs. The last player in line runs up behind the player directly in front. The end player then places his hands on the back of the player in front of him while simultaneously jumping over the back of the player. The player then continues to jump over the backs of all of the players until he reaches the front of the line.

The new end player then restarts the game. This game seems very simple but the difficulty comes when players fail to make the jumps.

An Alternate Way to Play from 1833:

A Funny College Reminiscence about Leap Frog:


February 8, 2011

Homemade PVC Whistles

Finally I got Andy to play his low D whistle. I am not very happy with the sound quality of the recording, I recorded it straight on the computer using the built-in hardware. It sounds like it is being played on a phonograph.

Andy is very nervous when playing in front of people or when he is recorded. The recording really doesn't capture the richness of the whistle sound that you hear in person.

*******Please vote in the poll on my sidebar if you are interested in knitting a Civil War Era reticule.  I had a lot of people interested in making them and asking me for a good pattern. Please vote so I know when it is best for most people.

February 4, 2011

Colonial Games: How to Play Peg-Farthing

Library of Congress
Peg-farthing, peg-top, or "ring" is played on a flat surface on which a circle is drawn about a yard in diameter. Another circle is drawn around this one for the players to stand on.  A farthing (coin) or other flat marker is placed in the center of the circle. A string is wound around a wooden top and pulled quickly to propel the top to spin on its own. Players start their top at the coin and try to get their top out of the circle by spinning it. If a top spins out of the circle, the owner can pick it up.

While the first person's top is within the circle (spinning or stopped,) the other players take turns to throw the pegs of their own tops at the top in the circle in an attempt to hit the top out of the circle or to "split" the top--separate the top and its peg. The player who successfully does this gets to keep the peg of the other player's top. The point of the game is to get as many pegs as you can.

After one round of throwing, if no one successfully "splits" the top, another player releases his top into the circle to be pegged at also. If all of the tops are "dead" in the circle, the first person removes his top and starts the game again.

It was written that the tops infequently "split" but it never stopped boys from trying. Most boys tried to hit their own top out of the circle to prevent it from being broken by another player.

February 2, 2011

The Bridal Ballad: Edgar Allan Poe

Scroll down and play the video first. :D
I love Edgar Allan Poe, and while this is not one of his most popular works or, in my opinion, one of his best, this illustration really made me take notice of the somber tones of the poem that at first glance seems childishly "rhymey."   
The poem itself is one of only a few poems from Poe written using a women speaker. The lines are simple and read very much like an old English Rhyme or song. Some think that this poem deals with what is modernly called "Post-nuptial Depression." This interpretation could have merit as the poem was published in 1837, and Poe was married to his cousin,Virginia, in 1836.  
Poe was fond of the drink and easily became intoxicated. Shortly after this poem was published in the Southern Literary Messenger, his drinking had become so bad that he was forced to leave the paper. It is entirely possible that Poe acknowledged that he really was not the best thing for his 13 year old bride and this poem may indicate his guilty conscious. 
Following their marriage, there were many rumors that Poe was not faithful to her. One of the ladies accused was Elizabeth Fries Lummis Ellet, a poet. Anonymous letters written to Virginia which told her of a relationship between Poe and Ellet made Virginia remark on her deathbed that Ellet had "been her murderer." It is believed that Ellet wrote them to Virginia herself. Ellet had been guilty of writing seductive letters to Poe inviting him to meet with her that he did not act upon.  
The ring is on my hand,
And the wreath is on my brow;
Satin and jewels grand
Are all at my command,
And I am happy now.

And my lord he loves me well;
But, when first he breathed his vow,
I felt my bosom swell-
For the words rang as a knell,
And the voice seemed his who fell
In the battle down the dell,
And who is happy now.

But he spoke to re-assure me,
And he kissed my pallid brow,
While a reverie came o'er me,
And to the church-yard bore me,
And I sighed to him before me,
Thinking him dead D'Elormie,
"Oh, I am happy now!"

And thus the words were spoken,
And this the plighted vow,
And, though my faith be broken,
And, though my heart be broken,
Here is a ring, as token
That I am happy now!

Would God I could awaken!
For I dream I know not how!
And my soul is sorely shaken
Lest an evil step be taken,-
Lest the dead who is forsaken
May not be happy now.

The poem is beautifully put to music by Hayley Westerna. The sadness of the poem is so intricately captured by the music.

February 1, 2011

Alternative Knitted Sontag Patterns

The major complain I hear about the Knitted Sontag from Godey's Lady's Book is that EVERYONE has the same one (however cute they are.) I've found two rarer patterns that I have never seen anyone wear.

What is fortunate about the first sontag pictured here is that this pattern might actually make a medium sized sontag. It also calls for a crochet border which is lucky for those of you who know how to crochet.

The second pattern, while a little awkward looking at first, really could look cute with a Civil War Era dress. The pattern was made for beginners which is really good and also details a little about knitting needles of the time, different yarns and how to knit. It has imitation ermine spots just like the popular Godey's pattern. This pattern seems like it would make a small sontag as the patten was made for younger girls. I would suggest making one the same size in the directions (and give it to a young girl) and make written notes while you knit of where you need to make adjustments to make one your size.  The "elastic band" mentioned is probably referring to "elastic knitting," according to the pictures. Elastic did exist but was only used for accessories. The elastic knitting referenced below is a modern day "Brioche Stitch," and you much cast on a number of stitches divisible by 3 or it will not work.

You might be wondering whatever happened to my Sontag. I am still waiting to buy new yarn. I need one more skein of green yards but refuse to spend that much to ship one skein of yarn. So I am waiting until I have a new project so I can combine shipping. It's been so cold lately, I wish I would finish it just so I can wear it around the house!  

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