September 27, 2013

September Sketchbook Challenge: Homes and Hideaways

The theme of September's Sketchbook Challenge is Homes and Hideaways. I had been meaning to finish a sketch I had started of McPherson's barn in Gettysburg.  On July 1st, the barn was used to shelter Union soldiers from artillery fire and wounded men after the battle. The farm was destroyed during the battle.

 The painting is tiny, about 4 1/2 inches square and was painted on scrap watercolor paper. 

September 23, 2013

Ridley Creek Civil War Reenactment at the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation

This weekend I found myself staring down some sheep. Sheep look nice and fluffy. At night, we are told to count them hopping jovially over a fence. When you look at a sheep, it conjures up relaxing pastoral images. Until you have to give them their medicine, that is.

This weekend, I went to the Civil War reenactment at the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation in Ridley Creek State Park to help give tours in the farm house.

This event is one of my favorites as it is local and the scenery is unbeatable for bringing the past to life. I was originally upset that I might have missed this event because I was planning on attending the 150th Chickamauga in Georgia as I hadn't been there in over 5 years but the plans fell through.

I offered to assist with the tours as I normally did. Unfortunately, I have been sick. I have had a terrible cough, angry running nose and little energy. When I woke up on Saturday morning the only thing I wanted to do was go back to sleep. I might have, if it wasn't for the sheep deworming that I had promised to take part in.

I stood there at 10 AM in the muddy sheep stall, wearing my mothers boots with my dress and holding a syringe full of medicine. Sheep are heard animals. They are soft and fluffy but they also have horns and hooves. I didn't think much of those until the wrangling began. Once the sheep were aware that something was amiss, they fiercely ran in circles, knocking everything out of their path.

The guy I was assisting, had a pretty good technique in cradling the sheep and getting them to open their mouths to take the medicine. But catching each sheep was a challenge. With every new sheep it was like the running of the bulls. The sheep took off, one even pounced against the wall near where I was standing like a ninja sheep, with all fours very close to my head. The medicine I was giving must have tasted terrible, as the sheep were very keen on spitting it back at me. Regardless, we finished in good time and the sheep forgot about it seconds later. Sunday's deworming went much smoother as my friend Jeff lent a hand and we both got to laugh at the new, exciting experience.

After that the tours went as good as can be expected, I had limited voice and a harsh cough. But the guests were very interested and engaged. On Saturday, about twenty soldiers from the local military base came out to visit.

The battles were phenomenal. As always the fighting is over great terrain, around walls, fences, hills and barns, very close to the spectators. The reenactors gave a very emotive performance with specialty scenarios which included robbing the farmhouse and caring for the wounded.  The house display was fantastic, as always.

It was a great event and I'm glad that I went, especially because I was sick. I got to learn new things, see a lot of friends I haven't seen in awhile and enjoy the great weather instead of just staying in bed.

September 18, 2013

Hearth Cooking Workshop with Mercy Ingraham

This weekend I had the great fortune to attend a hearth cooking workshop with cooking legend, Mercy Ingraham.

The nice fall day was perfect for gathering around the fire and cooking some hearty, cool-weather Colonial food. It's a funny feeling being a guest in your own kitchen (well a kitchen I cook in often enough.) But it was a real treat to get to see a master at work.

It was only minutes before the guests dug in and cooked. The scents in the air were fantastic: a smoky winter soup with sweet potato pie, stewed apples, and roasted pork.

 It was nice to see pie crust made, because I mess it up almost every time. We were lucky to have a pie making pro there as even Mercy admitted to the occasional store bought crust. I learned that I shouldn't worry about the lumps of butter/lard in the crust as that helps make it flaky.  I also learned a fancy pie crust trick, where after you roll the crust out on the table, you can wrap it around the rolling pin to transfer it into the pie pan.  

Busy cooks.
Sweet Potato Pie
Soup with bread and grated cheese.
I am hoping to try making pies this fall and using my new pie crust knowledge. I still could use more tips.

September 16, 2013

The Sea Plays by the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective

The night is late, the hold is hot and stuffy. WWI is raging and your ship, carrying munitions is just approaching the war zone. All of the windows are darkened and you and your shipmates are on tenterhooks as the boat rocks back and forth.  No one can sleep with enemy torpedoes on their mind. The S.S. Glencairn is an open target, when one of your mates feels a draft. Someone's been signaling to the Germans, and you all think you know who. The story comes to life as the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective turns Philly's Gazela into their stage for "The Sea Plays" until September 23, 2013.  
 Andy and I were lucky enough to get to help out on opening night. The actors were phenomenal and the sights and the smells of scenery draw you right into the stories. Opening night was ominous as a storm approached.
The weather channel said it was going to miss us. But the wind was blowing hard and the storm dropped a ferocious amount of water. Luckily, the storm stopped just short of the guests arriving and, although the crew was soaked, we were able to successfully get everyone on to enjoy the show. 

If you get a chance to see the show, it really is fantastic! I'll be helping out at a few more shows this week. Look forward to seeing some of you!

September 13, 2013

September 11, 2013

Remember September 11th

Take today to honor and remember those affected by terrorism. Terrorism is living in constant fear.  It is fearing going outside. It is fearing for your family members.  It is being afraid to speak and too scared to listen.  It is being at home, but not feeling safe. It is not feeling safe anywhere.   
 Terrorism is not just something that happens on a grand scale, perpetrated by scary men from foreign lands, although it sometimes is. More often are the terrorists in your own countries, towns, neighborhoods or even households.

September 11th shouldn’t be remembered for the fear. The legacy of September 11th is that for the first time in a long time, everyone stood together. In the pain, confusion, and madness, strangers helped each other, stood together and gave willingly. 

With millions standing together, fear became courage.   

Remember September 11th.  As Nelson Mandela said “courage [is] not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” Always stand up against terrorism. Help others turn fear into courage. Through courage, terrorism no longer exists.    

Please remember those affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks as well as everyone affected by terrorism everywhere in the world and honor and learn from those who fought it or continue to do so. 

September 9, 2013

Peterson Magazine's Princess Capote Hood Pattern from 1862

This hood is a pretty alternative to the Red Riding Hood that I posted last Friday. Both hoods were published in Peterson's Magazine in 1862 and are constructed similarly.

The ruffles, braid and tassel make this hood an intricate and pretty accessory.

Of course, I am very interested in any headwear that allows me to lay down while wearing it. Farby, I know. But there's nothing like walking a few miles in your corset and heavy dress and sneaking into your tent for a few minutes of temporary relief. You fluff up your blankets and try to lay down for a few minutes, and your bonnet or hat are in the way, making laying down impossible. By the time you get your bonnet or hat off, it's generally time to start cooking. :) 

This is a pretty hood and would be a nice thing to have come the colder events. Enjoy the nice cool weather we've been having. 

September 6, 2013

Red Riding Hood from Peterson's Magazine 1862

One can imagine the fashionable lady, walking down the street, a bright red rose in the bleak, snowy streets.   

This pretty little hood was published in Peterson's Magazine in 1862. This hood was meant to make a statement. The instructions directed fashionable ladies to procure the most brilliant scarlet that could be had. It also touted the ease of make and the prettiness of finished hood.

While not the typical riding cloak we think of when we hear the term "riding hood," this hood evokes the headwear of  Fran├žois Fleury-Richard's "Red Riding Hood" from 1820.

Similar hoods were already popular in the 1860s, this particular style was an imaginative twist to a winter wardrobe staple. It seems like a good weekend project, just in time for the colder events to come.  

Fran├žois Fleury-Richard

Some very pretty examples of this hood made up:

September 4, 2013

The Beauty of Valley Forge

We finally have a day of sweater weather. Everyone is back in school. The days are getting shorter and everyone is settling down from summer.

It's a strange feeling, sitting back as people are busily collecting school books, learning the ropes of their new classes and decorating their dorms.

Outside the birds are collecting sticks and the squirrels are busy burying those last few nuts.

It really is weird to have a chance to stop while everyone else is spinning.

I had a chance to do this recently. Andy and I went for a walk through Valley Forge. It's a place filled with beauty, despite the tragedies that made it famous. It is easy to imagine how this beauty affected the soldiers as they saw the first buds of spring pushing through the snow.

If you are one of those people being swirled around in the whirlwind of September, make sure to take a few well deserved breaks to admire the things going on around you. It's beautiful.

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