December 30, 2013

December Sketchbook Challenge

This was my least favorite Sketchbook Challenge to date. Not because it was a bad challenge or I didn't like what I sketched but because the topic, "Holiday Colors" pretty much dictated that the challenge had to be in a pigmented medium.  I wanted to sketch in pencil, so this month, my holiday color is white.

I liked the sketch. I'm in the process of making a customized sketchbook and made this little sketchbook out of the scraps.

Overall I enjoyed drawing in it. I just hope next month's challenge is pencil sketcher friendly. If you are looking to get into or back into drawing, the Sketchbook Challenge has been very fun. People interested can post their photos in their flickr group.  

December 20, 2013

Holiday Butter Cookie Recipe

This recipe is new to me. I was really in the mood to try and make butter cookies. My mom used to make them when I was younger.She used to make them with a press in the shape of camels and stars. They were an adorable Christmas treat. The press died years ago and with it the little cookies.

Butter Cookies


- 3 Cups Flour
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1 Cup Butter, softened
- 2 Tablespoons Orange Juice
- 2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
- 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder


Cream the butter, sugar, juice, and vanilla extract together until smooth. Add the flour and baking powder.  Form dough into 1 inch thick rolls and refrigerate until still. Slice the dough in 3/4 inch slices and place on a baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake in a preheated oven a 400 degrees for 7 minutes.

If you want sprinkles on top, dip the dough into the sprinkles before placing on baking sheet.If you plan to use a press, subtract 1/2 cup of flour.

I'm pleased with how they turned out for a first time recipe. It's a delicious recipe for winter, especially with hot chocolate.

December 16, 2013

Awesome Civil War Reenactor Homemade Gift Post at The Victorian Needle

So much snow this week! But the holidays are still fast approaching. I've been baking, buying and wrapping like a crazy person.

Are you looking for homemade gifts to make your favorite reenacting buddies? This post at The Victorian Needle is great. The pattern for the traveling bag is fantastic. I have been meaning to make one of those for years.

December 11, 2013

"Began my New Life by Seeing a Man Die at Dawn": Louisa May Alcott's Army Hospital Diary

 Everyone remembers famous writer Louisa May Alcott for her Civil War novel, Little Women. But on December 11th, 1862, Louisa was on her way to become an army nurse.

Many people know that her experiences working in the hospital led her to write Hospital Sketches, a fictional account, but few know that she actually kept a short diary during her 6 weeks there.  

Louisa did not intend to leave the hospital when she did but was forced to due to a terrible sickness she contracted while there. The diary excerpt is a raw account of her time there and her experiences similar to many army nurses at the time.  

Journal kept at the Hospital, Georgetown, D. C, 1862.

November. — Thirty years old. Decided to go to Washington as nurse if I could find a place. Help needed, and I love nursing, and must let out my pent-up energy in some new way. Winter is always a hard and a dull time, and if I am away there is one less to feed and warm and worry over.
I want new experiences, and am sure to get 'em if I go. So I've sent in my name, and bide my time writing tales, to leave all snug behind me, and mending up my old clothes, — for nurses don't need nice things, thank Heaven!

December. — On the 11th I received a note from Miss H. M. Stevenson telling me to start for Georgetown next day to fill a place in the Union Hotel Hospital. Mrs. Ropes of Boston was matron, and Miss Kendall of Plymouth was a nurse there, and though a hard place, help was needed. I was ready, and when my commander said "March!" I marched. Packed my trunk, and reported in B. that same evening.
We had all been full of courage till the last moment came; then we all broke down. I realized that I had taken my life in my hand, and might never see them all again. I said, "Shall I stay, Mother?" as I hugged her close. 

"No go and the Lord be with you" answered the Spartan woman; and till I turned the corner she bravely smiled and waved her wet handkerchief on the door step. Shall I ever see that dear old face again?

December 9, 2013

100 Years of Dance: Safe And Sound by Capital Cities.

I only comment on music when there's something very interesting going on. Safe and Sound by Capital Cities is an extremely catchy song but where it really shines is the music video.

At first glance it just looks like a theater production but if you look closely the video follows dance through the ages using  footage from the 20s, 30s and 40s and incorporating modern dancers. It's fantastic. The Charleston, swing dancing, and Bollywood are all in there.

I love it when popular culture adds in historical things. Too many pop songs are very superficial or tend to focus on negative lifestyle choices. This one may be superficial but at least it's uplifting.

There's a neat video about the making of the music video:    

According to the video they hoped to show the history of the historical theater that they filmed in.

December 5, 2013

Walmart Gives Battlefield Land Back!?

That's a crazy headline I never expected to see. After all, they petitioned for the land for so long and bought it, I really didn't think Walmart was afraid of the backlash they would have received if they built a store near a battlefield.

In 2011, Walmart purchased the land  near the Wilderness Civil War battlefield in Virginia. If you've been there, there's little battlefield land left in the area. The city has grown around and through the battlefields there and there is only little battlefield "pockets" of land.  The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park

People were afraid that the extra traffic and the loss of land would just increase the buildup in the area and the preserved parts of the battlefields there would suffer. When Walmart bought it, after a long fight with the CWPT, many people were upset that even more land would be gone and were extremely disappointed. The battle was fought on parts of the land that were also fought on during the Battle of Chancellorsville, the previous year. Yankee soldiers came across the skeletons of  other soldiers who died the year before and were buried in shallow graves.  This was also the first battle where Lee and Grant opposed each other.

I saw the battlefields in this area for the first time last year and was sort of confused. The city grew up around the battlefield, which is unavoidable as it was already a city during the 1860s. This was very strange to me as I am from the land of Gettysburg where the battlefield is an isolated, sacred place.

When we got into the area, we started asking around for where the battlefield was and didn't get a definitive answer. Even at the hotel where we asked, the lady at the desk said she didn't know but that she would help us search her map for it. When we finally found a good chunk of the Wilderness on the map and drove out to it, we realized why even locals didn't know where things were or if they even existed: the battlefields in this area are really just little patches of battlefield to be seen in between parking lots and neighborhoods.  

I had known that the Wilderness was an "endangered" battlefield, but i didn't really know what that meant until I saw the four battlefields in this area.

I'm surprised and happy to say that Walmart didn't just put the land up for sale, but donated it to The Virginia Department of Historic Resources.   

I am extremely happy that this has happened. News has been so bleak lately it's nice seeing something positive.

December 3, 2013

Free Civil War Era Scarf Pattern

 It's winter and time to get knitting!

I have been trying to find the provenance of the photo at the left. It is a great illustrative photo as to the type of scarf that this pattern creates. the stitches are tiny and the scarf, much wider than what we are used to. 

1859 Scarf Pattern

Size 00 needles, DK weight yarn. 

Cast on 100 stitches
Row 1: *K2tog x4, yo, k1 x8 , K2tog x4, p1* repeat between the * until end of row.
Row 2: purl all stitches.
Row 3: knit all stitches.
Row 4: purl all stitches.
Repeat Rows 1-4 until the scarf reaches 14 inches.
Final Row: Purl all stitches.

Scarf Main:
Row 1: *yo,sl 1, k1, psso, k1, p1* repeat between the  until end of row.
Repeat row 1 until the scarf is 14 inches shorter than you want it. 

Finishing Border:
Row 1: purl all stitches.
Row 2: knit all stitches.
Row 3: purl all stitches.
Row 4: *K2tog x4, yo, k1 x8 , K2tog x4, p1* repeat between the * until end of row.
Finish scarf with fringe or netting. 

25 stitch practice swatch.

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