Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Art Of Victorian Musings And Hints From Staffordshire Cottage

Might you pour some tea and let us have a little visit. I've missed you, and I have such particulars to tell you and a bit of some musing that only you might well appreciate. 
My choice of tea this morning is lavender and rose with a smidge of honey, I am pairing it with a few walker shortbread biscuits/cookies. A little further down in this entry I will share my  Victorian recipe of Walker shortbread. Last evening I finally took a moment to sit a spell and read my newest issue of Victoria magazine. I was especially pleased to see a sweet little entry about Beatrix Potter's celebratory birthday in England. What a delight! I do love Beatrix Potter as you may well know. 
As you can see here, Oliver is as gleeful about fall as I am. I do love a rabbit in photographs along with some flowers. 
As I am an artist and with my manuscript and illustrations off to the formatting company, I thought to send you a tad of Mermaid. I painted this so long ago, and it still reminds me of my beloved gardener. I imagine he looked like this as an infant boy. 

 I have an old wooden fence that separates us from the neighbours, and there is one piece of fencing that has long rotted away. I can't bear to replace it as I am rewarded with my neighbours bleeding hearts ever so daring to connect. I don't mind it one bit. Isn't the bleeding heart thus very England and holiday provoking in spirit?
 And since I have no children these days underfoot, these little ladies are my constant companions. Have I ever told you of their names? The red one with white-tipped tail feathers is named Harriet. We were told she was an Orpington, but I think she is something else. Any guesses out there, ladies? The Plymouth Rock {black &white} is named May. Her sister was called Flower, and she was killed by a racoon as a chick. The Black Australorp is Pollie, and the Rhode Island Red {to the far right} is named Henny Penny.
 They surely keep the bugs down and weeds from my rose garden. They love the rose garden.

 I was counting out my collection of oyster shells that I've been hoarding as I am planning to use them to make an excellent base for a laundry line. I need to make one that's portable, small in scale as our gardens are small and one that is appealing to admire. I should think that all things in our dwellings should be delightful and admirable to gaze upon, no?
 I do believe ladies that I have showed you once before in another post, the little bathroom I redid for $12.00. I had all of the other supplies in the garage. I will go into more depths in the newest entry, but I thought I'd share a little inspiration with you proving that we are only limited to our imagination when desiring to create beauty in our small abodes. I am beginning our 2nd bath this weekend with another many little redos. It requires my Beloved Gardener to disembowel the sink. He was very enthusiastic about how I was able to transform our small bath with such little money. I hope to do a second bath, such as justice. I will dedicate an entire post to that project in the impending future.

 I am currently switching out a few sets of our curtains in the cottage from linen to all lace. I am a lace person, and it makes the cottage feel a bit more Victorian in nature. That's the exciting thing about homes. If you desire to have your home a particular style, but it's not perhaps, built in the period you'd like, there is always a way to aesthetically change things to trick the eye.

 I have begun taking out my fall decor. Last year these leaves were sent to me from a dear friend in New England. To prep for the autumn brings me right to the edge of enjoyment.

 A beautiful Victorian image of a print I have had for many years. It speaks to me as a mermaid;  elegant and enchanting.
 A little painting I did for Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag of their son Gunner with some hummingbirds.
 A little Halloween decorating from last year. I am in hopes of tickling you with inspiration to begin thinking about such a beautiful, dreamy holiday approaching. I am frequently tempted to leave my cobwebs up all year round. {heh} Do you think anyone would pay notice?
 Are you a Halloween person? What's your favourite holiday? Do you celebrate Lammas? I began celebrating Lammas a few years ago. I have always incorporated traditions into my life, and I very much tried to create that for my children as they were young. I am still reminded by my children of how much they appreciated all the traditions I incorporated for them. They certainly make me so very happy, and it's such fun in sharing with the children all about their family heritage and genealogy. Do you have traditions? 

My little roses and herbs are getting along quite well. I have started adding potash to the roses and look how many blooms have shot out in the last week.
Another small image of the old home when I lived in Orlando. This was my formal Victorian dining room, so I didn't much care that the cobwebs were ridiculously placed. I so very much wish I had the old photos of this decorating, it was quite something, in my opinion.
I placed this image up as its another reminder of an idea for the cabinets here at Staffordshire Cottage. This is my old home, but I still quite enjoy this look of distress on the cabinets. It was a very time-consuming project but prevailed in the end because it saved me thousands of dollars when we went to purchase this home. There was an exact house right next door at the time we were looking to buy. The only difference was that the house next door was 60,000 dollars more than ours, and it was because they had replaced the kitchen cabinets before placing it on the market. I said oh, no! I'll just paint ours, and I would venture to guess ours will turn out a bit more charming. I must say I was right. The first thing that drew the lady to want our home was the kitchen. She really liked the cabinets. Our house sold in 2 days. This was over 9 years ago. Oh my! Where oh, where has the time gone?

I am still toying with whether I want to alter this look a bit. I had even thought to do the distress but actually paint the cabinets an olive green instead of beige. Below is the handle that I have picked out for the pulls.

Here's another designer tip. If you can not afford to overhaul a particular room per se, but you want to update it enough to where when you are having your morning tea and not feel dreadful in your own dwelling, remember that you can change little things and it will make a world of difference.

For instance, I am not at the leisure to altogether remove our kitchen cabinets as of yet, but I can add some techniques along with some paint, and some Victorian pieces and It will suffice for quite some time. The pulls are on the pricey end of the spectrum, but I can always remove the pulls and place them on new cabinets when the time arises.

 Another image of new lace curtains. I have been finding a mix of lace curtains at yard sales. I don't have all the windows provided for as of yet, because as we know, some things take a little time. I do know that Ikea has some relatively inexpensive lace curtains and I think I may drive over this weekend and pick some up for the sliding glass doors. I want to replace the doors for some french doors with glass knobs, but lace curtains will deter the eye for the time being.
This is what my old doorknobs looked like except the glass portion was the colour of the knob below. I am a mug for the colour green, as many of you already know.
 I worked at Anthropologie for a time, and I was able to get a discount.
I have many of these for cabinet pulls which I put on all sorts of things. The bathroom vanity cabinet, the pantry closet, sleeping room closet doors, wall hooks, or I might even drill a hole right into the wall to hang picture frames with chains. It's so very Victorian!

 I am sure you are fully aware of who this is! Meet Queen Mary of Scots!
 I spoke to you previously telling you how much I absolutely love the Walkers Pure Butter shortbread. Well if you know anything about the Walker shortbread or have purchased them you may be fully aware that for a tiny box of them, it's about 5 dollars. That's not too much truthfully, but I thought I might try my hand at baking my very own. It was 3 ingredients, how tough could it possibly be, correct?
  • 1 1/2 Cups Plain flour
  • 1/3 Cup White sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cups Butter
Walker Pure Butter Shortbread 
  1. Preheat Oven To 180 Degrees C.
  2. Blend All Ingredients Well. Dough Will Be Stiff.
  3. Press Into A 23cmx23cm Buttered Cake Pan. Prick Top With A Fork. Mark Into 24 Squares.
  4. Bake In Preheated Oven For 15-20 Minutes Until Pale Golden Brown On The Edges. While Still, Warm Cut Into Squares~Prep time 15 mins › Cooking time 15 mins › Ready in 30 minutes let me just tell you, you get a mighty amount when you make them yourself. Here's the Victorian recipe I used, doubling my batch. I freeze one batch for later and eat the other now. It's also a lovely gift to give if you've been invited to tea or you need a house gift in a pinch. Add some wrapping, ribbons and a basket; and you will be all set and ready.

I am quite the mover here at the cottage, and I am not one to continually wear my Victorian boots daily. So I wear these little inexpensive {$7.00} ballerina shoes from Walmart. They are super comfortable, and they look adorable with all of my dresses. As you can see from the picture, they start to look scuffed and not so cute, but they don't have holes in them, so guess what I do? I actually decorate them with fabrics, trims, bits, bobs, tea-dyed lace and ribbons. That way, I can get more use out of them, and even when I am doing tedious strenuous projects, I still look approachable. I tried to match the designs from my old shoes below. Notice the darling brass mermaid?

I held a little tea party for myself on July 28; Beatrix Potters birthday!

Here is another view of our sleeping room. I found these pictures of Blue Boy and Pinkie at the thrift store for 3 dollars, and I had to have them. As a young girl, I always had these figures in my sleeping room. They are such delightful memories for me. I am removing the linen curtains and replacing with lace ones as well.
My dresser. I collect little glass vanity boxes, gloves and perfume,e bottles. My collection is in the beginning stages just as my new transformational life as a gardener's wife.
The jewellery music box is my Beloved Gardeners deceased mothers. It's one of the only belongings that he has and holds so dear that was hers.
Miss Potter {From My DVD}
An image of an outfit I am beginning. I bought the pattern below from Etsy, and I am starting on it this weekend. I am going to choose a soft calico, perhaps hemp ticking in taupe. The blouse is one I purchased from Historical Emporium. I love their Victorian shirts because they are comfortable and made of all cotton. I am a mug for a Victorian cotton blouse. I chose an ecru in colour as I am a gingered haired lady and the soft ecru looks much more spritely on my skin tone than a stark white. I will pair it with my favourite of all broach types; the cameo.
Courtesy of Historical Emporium

I hope this day finds you extraordinarily well. I also am hoping that you will sign up for my newsletter "The Current."
I do not send out that many and I pinky-swear that I won't be bothersome with endless mailings. I want each of you the opportunity to be entered into my contest to win a Merrymaid Scarlette Rose doll along with a care package and a copy of my storybook "The Tale of Merrymaid Scarlette Rose". It will be a charming little gift for a baby shower or for the upcoming Christmas holiday. My release date is the second week in September. I shall keep you posted. Follow along on my social media if you would like. The links are to the right of this blog on the side panel. 

Most affably yours til my next swim, Raquelxxx

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Lesson In Victorian Etiquette According To The Manners Of A MerryMaid

My dear friends,

Put the kettle on darlings, and let us commence with a delightful topic this morning. I am having green tea with a bit of coconut. I am most assuredly anticipating it will carry me through during the penning of this post. It has a bit of caffeine and I knowingly admit to partaking several cups before this day has come to an end.
I am at the deadline of my book, as it must be in the letterbox by days end.

Did I share with you what occurred and why I decided to get a formatting company to assemble my book? I shared a video on ye olde youtube channel. Swim to the link to uncover what transpired.

Have you signed up for my newsletter "The Current?" I do hope that you have. I will be drawing from my little fishers net to select a few winners to receive a gift basket of treasures. I am including my storybook, some reading paraphernalia, and a Scarlette Rose Lolly Dolly Merrymaid. Isn't she the most beautiful? She was made by my dear friend from the UK. Her name is Bridgette. I met Bridgette some time ago on Instagram. If you feel inspired send her some love. Her handle is @moetlala.

As you may know, if you follow me on social media, most particulary Instagram, that I have spent the last several weeks fiddling with some new ideas. A few of those particular bits are reintroducing the beautiful superfluous way the British spoke the Victorian language. I am in constant readiness to continually expand along my spiritual transformational tale. So just as my personal life is expanding, changing and growing expotentially, I too would love to carry along spiritually my little online piece of heaven. My blog makes me ever so happy. I feel like its a special place I come to daily and continually learn about myself. I love to revisit old diary entries so that I may encorporate the lessons into my daily life.

As I was telling you, I have been amassing my victorian books, adding many to my delightful collection. I shall share a few passages that I have found useful from The Essential Handbook of Victorian Etiquette that has served me most. If you favor victorian life, I highly recommend this handbook.

I wear dresses for my everyday attire, and I have become a maven when it comes to practicality, and how to wear a dress with etiquette.
When going to take care of bits, crossing the pavement or climbing steps a lady should raise her dress with the right hand, a little about the ankle. To raise the dress with both hands is considered vulgar and can only be excused when mud is very deep.

When I am about the garden, doing housework I wear a scarf or keep my hair in a lower bun about the nape of the neck. If I leave the cottage, I am always prepared with a scarf and a hat. If it is summer, it's a straw poke or cotton bonnet and a thin scarf. In a cooler climate, I wear a wrap made of wool. My hats are also made of wool or heavy knitting. I have a cotton loop with a button and a large pin that I secure my skirt on the side if I am engaged in a strenuous or untidy activity. Painting, climbing a ladder, cutting wood, carpentry, making candles, or cleaning the chicken coop, calls for a skirt pinning. I learned early on that everyone is capable of wearing a dress to perform any type of task. You actually get quite used to wearing a dress and I would bet once you've started wearing a dress, you'll never want to wear anything else.

When wearing a dress, and sitting down, slant one foot just slightly over the other at the ankle and tilt legs inward towards who you are engaged in conversation with. It creates an intimacy with the other person. Never cross your legs. To cross one's legs is considered vulgar, and varicose veins become inevitable. Hands are always to be clasped and set in your lap. Crossing arms means you are upset and disgruntled.

When in public or having company while partaking of tea, always look into your cup when sipping. It's considered highly rude to look about the room or at your guests while sipping tea. When raising your teacup, accompany the cup with saucer below, never picking up the teacup by itself. You appear undignified and without manners.

If you are issuing and accepting luncheon invitations, the invitations may be given by card, or even verbally. They should be delivered four days to two weeks in advance of the event. A lady that has been invited should accept immediately. It is not considered proper for ladies to remove jackets, hats, or bonnets at a luncheon. Tea or coffee are never served at or after a luncheon. A tea party is an entirely separate affair.
Tea parties are from the hours of 4-6 pm. Six ladies are the perfect number for a tea party. Its often time local custom for a lady to bring her own cup. If she does, it should be wrapped beautifully in a box and taken to the table where the tea is to be served.

I think I've allowed the time to run away dear friends. I surely hope with all my might this post served you and you found a few tips from the Victorians that you can use straight away. I am most anticipatory of hearing if you were able to incorporate any of my tips for your next affair.

I am mostly in admiration with the tea party and since the information is so deeply infused I shall create an entirely new post specifically for tea parties. I will accompany it with lovely photographs as well. I am certain it will be a popular entry.

 If you delight in entertaining, I would suggest The Essential Handbook of Victorian Entertaining.

Once again dear friends If you haven't signed up for my newsletter, I'd be delighted if you would. I have a sign-up space to the right on the side panel or if you have read this post all the way through, a pop-up version should have appeared.

My book will be out within a few weeks and I could not be more ecstatic.

most affably yours til' my next swim, Raquelxxx

Raquel's Letterbox-In-The-Hedge

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