Thursday, January 30, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 4 - Raised Chocolate Cake

This week was my husband's birthday, so I asked him if I could make his birthday cake from a rationing
Mmmm! Homemade chocolate cake. Nothing beats that.
 recipe and he agreed. I was really excited!

It was a little tricky finding just the right cake. Should I go with a British recipe like a sponge or should I try and find a classic American vanilla cake with chocolate frosting? With dried fruit or plain? And from which source would I find the recipe? In one of my books, a pamphlet, or magazine? In the end I settled on a unique recipe for Raised Chocolate Cake with Sugarless Boiled Frosting from Grandma's Wartime Kitchen by Joanne Lamb Hayes which I've mentioned on here before. Her book has an index in the back, so since I was in a rush, her book was the easy choice!

This cake recipe is pretty standard except that it calls for yeast. I've never heard of a cake that called for yeast, so I was very intrigued.

I had two substitutions that I needed to make in the recipe. One is that it called for shortening. And second is that it called for corn syrup. I am nutritionally opposed to both shortening and corn syrup, so this is a dilemma I have to deal with in these recipes. Do I adhere strictly to the recipes for historical recreation's sake? Or do I make a substitution if I don't have or want to use an ingredient? The historian in me says to do the former and adhere strictly, but I also have to think about how my family and I are actually going to be eating this food. Our health is important to me, so I decided to go with substitutions. I'm sure women of the 1940s were required to use substitutions as well when they weren't able to get certain ingredients, so I don't feel I'm doing a total disservice to the recipe. My substitutions are as close as I can make them.

For example: for shortening I used butter (there are "healthier" shortening alternatives as well that I've used in the past which I might purchase again), and for corn syrup I make my own cane syrup made by boiling cane sugar and water to a thick syrup consistency. It makes a wonderful corn syrup substitute. My inner-historian isn't 100% pleased, but oh well...

If you're interested in food history, here is a quick and dirty history of shortening on wikipedia and a biased history of Karo corn syrup. (According to the Corn Refiners Association, corn syrup was invented in 1882.)

Besides the yeast addition, beating up the batter was very straightforward and familiar with other cake batters I've made in the past.
Yummy looking batter - enough for two 8" cake pans.

Taste test: PASS!
My daughter carrying on my childhood tradition of licking the beaters.
The yeast taste was definitely there, but not overpowering.
 You're supposed to let the cakes sit out for 1/2 hour until bubbly to let the yeast rise some. Our house must be too cold, because not much bubbly was going on. I was in a hurry to get the cakes done before hubby came home, so I popped them into the oven anyway.

They turned out lovely!
 I'm pretty sure they were supposed to rise a lot more, but I was still pretty happy with the cake. The baking smells filling my house were very strange - it smelled like I was baking yeasty chocolate bread. Weird.

 So, next I had to make the Sugarless Boiled Frosting. I was slightly intimidated by this recipe. You have to put the egg whites, corn syrup, and salt in a double boiler and beat it with an electric mixer while it's sitting and cooking over simmering water. This was a totally new experience for me! I've never used an electric mixer near my stove, but I gave it a try and let it heat while mixing. It wasn't as hard as I thought, though you do need to be careful of the cord near your stove. The recipe says it takes about 7 minutes to whip up to stiff peaks and it does, but the result was amazing - the mixture whipped up to this luxurious glossy pure white frosting. I actually cut the recipe in half because I didn't have enough cane syrup after using it in the cake. I thought it was just the right amount of frosting though. It's not like I needed leftovers!

Folding in the vanilla

Frosting the stacked cakes with a frosting layer inbetween.

Beautiful! 

This cake turned out so delicious!
This cake was a success! It made a lovely birthday cake. Both the cake and frosting were sweeter than I was expecting. I might put in less brown sugar next time. I found the frosting had an interesting texture, but couldn't quite put a finger on it. I let my 6-year-old son try it and he immediately said, "It tastes like marshmallows!" He totally hit it on the head. This frosting should really be called Marshmallow Frosting. It reminds me of marshmallow spread. And just so you know, you need to spread it while it's warm. It starts to stiffen as it cools and keeps its shape very nicely. I can see why it was popular for wedding cakes.

Some historical notes and thoughts:
Ms. Hayes mentions that the Sugarless Boiled Frosting was used a lot for weddings and the recipe makes a lot from so little ingredients. 

1930 Sunbeam Electric Mixer
Both recipes are made using an electric mixer. Not true to the 1940s, you think? Well, it is! I was stunned to walk into an antique shop a couple years ago to find a 1930 Sunbeam electric mixer. I guess I never realized that they've been around for so long. Kitchen work was revolutionized far before our modern Kitchen Aid mixers came around. For some reason this is a comforting thought and makes me really happy! :-)

I think our modern definition of cake has spoiled us for good homemade cake. Homemade cake never seems to be as tender as box mix or store-bought cake (full of additives and chemicals). And so now we think that's the way cake is supposed to be. Have you seen the Disney movie "Pollyanna"? There's a scene where Pollyanna is at the church bazarre and she buys a gigantic piece of layered cake and walks around eating with it in hand - no fork required! That, folks, is real cake in my opinion. I think this Raised Chocolate Cake recipe is just that sort of cake - sturdy, full of yummy homemade flavor, and yeah, you could walk around with a piece in your hand without it all falling apart. I'd say that's a bonus, wouldn't you? Give this recipe a try and see for yourself!

One last note - while perusing rationing recipes I found quite a few desserts that called for crumbled cake crumbs. What a thrifty way to use your leftover, dried-out cake!

Raised Chocolate Cake
Ms. Hayes says she saw this recipe in wartime magazines and cookbooks.

3/4 cup warm water
1 envelope yeast
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 large eggs
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups sifted cake flour (sift before measuring)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Sugarless Boiled Frosting, optional

Grease two deep 8-inch round baking pans. Combine warm water and yeast in a cup and set aside for yeast to soften.

Beat together brown sugar and shortening until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then corn syrup and vanilla.

Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add to sugar mixture along with yeast mixture. Beat just until smooth.

Divide batter between greased pans and set aside in a warm place 30 minutes or until it begins to look puffy. 

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake layers 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of each comes out clean. Remove to wire racks to cool completely before frosting. Fill and frost with Sugarless Boiled Frosting, if desired. 


Sugarless Boiled Frosting
Ms. Hayes mentions that a lot of 1940s wedding cake recipes called for this frosting.
Recipe fills and frosts a 9-inch two-layer cake

1 1/3 cups light corn syrup
2 large egg whites
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla (you might want a little less)

Combine corn syrup, egg whites, and salt in top of a double boiler. Place over simmering water and beat with an electric beater until the mixture stands in stiff peaks - about 7 minutes. 

Remove pan fro hot water and fold in vanilla. Use to fill and frost 2 (9-inc) layers. Serve cake within 2 to 3 hours and store any leftovers in the refrigerator. 

Both the cake and frosting taste great the next day! 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 3 - Scotch Eggs

Scotch Eggs - it uses very basic ingredients!
For this week's ration recipe I thought I'd give the Brits a try. I love reading about the British homefront stories of WWII, and it's wonderful because there is so much to read about. I have very special and fond memories of going to do WWII research at the incredible Imperial War Museum in London and reading about British women during the war. If you're ever in London, that is a must-see place to visit!

My recipe for this week is an interesting one: Scotch Eggs. In a quick internet search I found that the term "Scotch Eggs" originated in Scotland, but the date of the actual creation of the dish is debatable. Scotch Eggs basically consist of a hard boiled egg coated in mince or sausage meat and bread crumbs then baked or fried. I thought it sounded delicious!

But we're talking about WWII here and so of course there's a catch. This recipe doesn't use fresh eggs, but dehydrated eggs. The British had to deal with rationed eggs and therefore the advent of powdered, or dehydrated, eggs into the British wartime diet.

BBC History's website has a great section on rationing during WWII. Here's a quote below. Keep an eye on how many eggs were allowed for 1 week:

"Official rationing began on 8 January 1940 with bacon, butter and sugar. Rations were distributed by weight, monetary value or points. One person's typical weekly allowance would be: one fresh egg; 4oz margarine and bacon (about four rashers); 2oz butter and tea; 1oz cheese; and 8oz sugar. Meat was allocated by price, so cheaper cuts became popular. Points could be pooled or saved to buy pulses, cereals, tinned goods, dried fruit, biscuits and jam." - BBC History

Can you imagine going on one fresh egg for one week per person? If you had one fresh egg, what would you do with it?

The recipe for Scotch eggs that I used comes from Marguerite Patten's book We'll Eat Again. (This book is available as a stand-alone book or as part of a 3-book compilation entitled Victory Cookbook.) I love Marguerite Patten! What a treasure of knowledge that woman has! She worked for the British  Ministry of Food during WWII as their Home Economist and later was able to broadcast her favorite rationing recipes to a wider audience on the BBC Kitchen Front radio broadcasts. She and her colleagues traveled around giving demonstrations. She says that, "our campaign was to find people, wherever they might be, and make them aware of the importance of keeping their families well fed on the rations available." Her book is chock full of British wartime recipes, many of which I want to try! So, you'll be seeing a few more recipes from her book on here for future Project 52 weeks.

Just a forewarning - I'd say the skill level for making this version of Scotch eggs is advanced. There is a bit of technical skill involved.


The first step is getting the reconstituted dried eggs hard boiled. I had to dig a little through the book to find the accompanying recipe because sadly there is no index and worse - no page numbers!


I made sure to have exact, level tablespoons.
1 tablespoon dried egg powder to 2 tablespoons water for the right proportions.

Mixing up the powder and water - it looks a lot like fresh scrambled eggs, but it's actually a lot runnier.
 When it came to cooking the eggs I had a really hard time. The eggs took forever to cook. I left them open in the pan of boiling water and the ramekins rattled like crazy, but the eggs only thickened to a custard-like consistency even after 30 minutes of cook time. I thought that it was a ridiculous waste of time and electricity until I realized that the darn eggs just needed to steam themselves and put a lid on it. Five minutes later they were done. Sheesh! It would have been good to know that in the recipe.

Cook, babies, cook!

Hard-boiled reconstituted powdered eggs seasoned with salt & pepper.
They were a lot more soft and delicate than I thought they'd be. I flipped one over and it broke in half! Maybe they needed to cook longer?

Then came the really difficult part of this recipe: "coating the eggs in sausage meat". I actually laughed, because that was easier said than done as the eggs were so fragile! So, what I ended up doing was making a flattened sausage patty, gently placed one of the eggs on top, made another thin sausage patty and put it on top, pressing the sides all around so it made a sausage/egg sandwich. Then I heated up some leftover bacon fat (because the recipe says if you have any spare fat you can fry it with that). While that was heating I held the sandwiched patty in one hand and dusted first one and then the other side with flour, scooped out some extra reconstituted egg and patted that on both sides, and then I patted on some breadcrumbs all the while having to hold it gently in one hand. It was quite the juggling act! What I ended up with were two hamburger-looking patties. They looked pretty good!

While the first one was frying I made the mistake of trying to flip it like a pancake. That was not a good idea as you can see from the giant crack in the top:

It's important to show the failures along with the successes! 
 The second patty went much smoother as I tipped it over using the side of the pan to help it slide back down. It looks much prettier:
Success!
 Then came the taste test. I'll freely admit I was a wee bit scared! So, I did what any self-respecting wife would do - I told my husband his breakfast was ready. Haha! He was such a good sport about it. He knows all about my ration recipe experiments and was willing to give it a try. He said it was pretty good, so I gave it a bite too.

First impressions: it's salty, with a good density on the meat, the fried outsides have a nice crunch, but WHOA those eggs have a freaky texture!

Conclusion: I think if I was really hungry and had no other egg option I would totally make this, but let's face it. Powdered eggs will never taste like fresh eggs.

I'm thinking I'll try this recipe again only using fresh eggs, because who wouldn't want eggs coated in sausage, dipped in bread crumbs and fried in fat?! :-)

Next time I think lard would be a better option for frying. The bacon fat was way too salty in addition to the already salted sausage and eggs. The egg itself was edible, in my opinion, because it was coated in very flavorful sausage. If I had to eat the eggs straight... I might skip breakfast. I have a lot of admiration for those Brits who muscled through their powdered eggs every morning!

My husband ate the whole thing. That says something, doesn't it?
One other note about the recipe when it comes to serving sizes of the time - This recipe says it's for 2-4 portions. I actually used 2-eggs worth for each patty. So, in that sense I didn't follow the recipe as religiously as I should have. I think the eggs would have been a lot thinner and therefore even less noticeable in the sausage while still getting the nutrients from the eggs. But, I also think by today's standards it would work for 2 adult portions or 4 child portions.

If you can't get ahold of powdered eggs, I say try the recipe using fresh. A lot of people kept chickens during the war, so it would still be authentic and you could cook it using the same techniques.

Have fun and leave a comment if you make it telling about your experience!


August 15, 2015 update: I found a great video by Jas. Townsend & Son where they make an 18th Century version of Scotch Eggs. I have to say theirs looks much tastier and easier to make!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 2 - Maple Tapioca

I realized last night that I hadn't tried out a rationing recipe for the week yet and quickly flipped through my books where I've marked all the recipes I'm interested in. I was craving something a little sweet after dinner, so finding the Maple Tapioca recipe got me excited!

I found this recipe in my newly acquired book Grandma's Wartime Kitchen by Joanne Lamb Hayes. Her book is full of interesting historical bits and recipes. The Beet Relish is awesome which a friend of mine had made and let me try. To be perfectly honest, the biggest reason I wanted to try this recipe, besides it being a yummy tapioca, was because of the truly American touch of maple syrup instead of white sugar. The end result doesn't taste very mapley, but it does a great job of giving the right amount of sweetness without being overpowering. Not to mention it saves on rationed sugar.

Another thing I liked about choosing this tapioca recipe is that Hayes mentions that "government nutrition advisers recommended serving mildly flavored puddings like this one as a way to ensure that children (and husbands) got enough milk in their diet each day." Unlike today, where there are various camps with different stances on milk, milk was considered a staple and valuable nutrition source. Nutrition was a huge focus of the government during WWII - in order to fight the enemy effectively and well, not only did the soldiers need to be in prime health, but the folks on the homefront needed to be as well. They had to work in the factories and be able to work the long hours at all of their war jobs in order to keep up the support for the war effort. Personally, I think this is a really interesting aspect of the war.

I've got 30 minutes of stirring ahead of me!
  Moving on to the actual recipe - the fact that it called for quick-cooking tapioca was a little deceiving as you had to cook the milk to boiling on low and stir it constantly. So, maybe not the best recipe to try an hour before the kids' bedtime! Haha! I usually don't have much patience for custard, though I know the work and effort are far worth it. I absolutely adore a good English custard but tapioca comes second on my list, so I was really looking forward to the end result!


Yay! Thickened milk with tapioca.
Well, I was proud of myself for how patient I was stirring for half an hour (while jamming to some good music which helped). I didn't curdle or burn the milk at all! I was also happy with how it thickened up so nicely. After adding the egg yolk it looked like an amazingly proper tapioca custard. It was so creamy! But then the recipe threw me one for a loop. It said to fold in the egg white, whipped, left from the egg yolk. I suspect this may have been to avoid wasting the white because normally you don't put egg whites in a custard pudding. So, I added the whipped egg white with a very dubious look on my face. I shouldn't have been surprised what it did to my lovely (non-curdled!) tapioca custard, but I was. The egg white totally changed the texture of the tapioca from thick and creamy to fluffy and... sticky.

End product: a delicious, though fluffy, tapioca
As for taste it was absolutely perfect, even with the funky texture. It was just the right amount of sweet - a perfect accompaniment to any dessert or as a yummy snack. I'd recommend trying it, but if you want to skip the step of egg whites and just add the vanilla, go ahead. I think I'll try making it again and then enjoy the more dense and creamy texture sans egg whites!

Here's the recipe!
Grandma's Wartime Kitchen by Joanne Lamb Hayes
I like the little blurb at the bottom of the page. Just think how much sugar consumption has gone up since 1942!

Update: August 13, 2015 - After more experience and reading more wartime recipes, it seems that adding the egg white was a common practice and a texture that was desired. It wasn't really just about saving the egg white, but giving it a fluffier texture on purpose. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Decision Made

This past week I looked over my pattern for the cross-over Regency dress (from Sensibility.com) and there is no way that 2 1/2 yards will cut it. So, the choice was made for me. It's going to be the red roller-print fabric! I'm a little bummed, only because I originally picked out that print for a late 1700s dress - my first dress of that period - but since I'm not quite to the point of moving on to another time period right now, I'll just have to find something different later. *sigh* Besides, I don't even know if this print would be appropriate for the late 1700s. I need to do more research anyway.

......

Okay, so I went back to the Sensibility.com website and I'm realizing that the cross-over gown actually looks better suited to a silk, not cotton. Which now brings me back to square one, dang it! I think I'm going to get her original Regency gown pattern along with the neck supplement and make a dress with the higher neckline and with short sleeves and the long sleeve inserts. I just keep thinking of how bad my sun burn was from Defender's Day in September and how it would have been much better to have a higher neckline! I'm considering volunteering there at Ft. McHenry and if it all works out I'd like to have a much more practical dress for being out of doors in the summer. Hmm! It looks like I've got some more thinking to do.

Also, I keep thinking of the dresses in the new "Emma" film and how I loved their simplicity and fabrics (linen!). I'm not sure exactly what time they set "Emma". The early 1800 fashions still blend a lot in my mind. Anyone know of a good reference book or website that sorts that all out?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Project 52: Rationing - Week 1 - Oatmeal Drop Cookies

Oatmeal Drop Cookies
- and yes they really are that orange in color!

Last night was near zero degrees with a bitter wind blowing about the corners of our little farmhouse. How I wished for a wood burning stove! The next best thing, however, would be a small plate of warm cookies to go with my hot, herbal red chai dosed liberally with milk. And since the kids were in bed and my husband was on the computer doing research for some future home projects, I thought it would be the perfect time to dive right into my first week of rationing recipes.


Earlier yesterday, I was going through an awesome little American Victory Cook Book (courtesy of Lysol - 1942) that I acquired recently and picking out recipe candidates when a cookie recipe caught my eye - Oatmeal Drop Cookies. We've all had oatmeal cookies right? Well, this recipe was different. For one, at first glance, it looked to have little sugar in it, and secondly it called for molasses. I have never made an oatmeal cookie with molasses in it! So, that alone peaked my interest. This cookie was the perfect ticket to a cold winter night.

I donned my Wartime Cooking apron (because I just had to, okay?! Don't laugh!) and started in on making the cookies. I went happily along thinking, "This looks like a pretty typical oatmeal cookie recipe."

But then, I got to the second column of ingredients - 1/4 cup of brown sugar... 1 egg... 1/4 cup dark molasses... 1/4 cup orange marmalade?! (Can you tell that I'm guilty of not reading recipes through thoroughly? Ha!) So, the orange marmalade threw me for a loop, but luckily I had some! Fancy that, eh? And just think the week before I had contemplated throwing it out because we rarely eat it and my kids won't let it touch their PB&J sandwiches or biscuits. Lucky me, because it was 8 pm and I wasn't going to try and go out to a store to find orange marmalade with weather like that outside!


So, moving on, I whipped it all up, following the recipe to a T (except using butter instead of shortening as I didn't have any), and it seemed kind of runny at first, but the batter thickened up a lot in a few minutes. It may have been because our house was so cold, but then again maybe not. (It was probably just the oats thickening things up, though.)

I'm a sucker for cookie dough, so of course I tried some and it was really delicious! I was getting anxious for my hot tea and cookies, so I spooned the dough all out onto my cookie sheets, being very careful to portion out 36 cookies like the recipe says, because I wanted to get an accurate size for these 1942 cookies. We all know the portion sizes in the 1940s were a lot smaller than they are today. 

I popped them in the oven and waited impatiently. I got my tea all ready (I keep a quart ready-made in the fridge so I just heat it up, add milk and drink!), and after 15 minutes they were done. Yippee!

As soon as they were cooled enough to not melt my mouth I gave one a try. Ooh, my goodness. It was unlike any cookie I had ever had! The earthiness of the molasses paired delightfully with the floralness of the orange marmalade. It was amazing! And they still are a day later. My 6-year-old son declared them a success, but my 3-year-old daughter made a face after one bite and unceremoniously spit it out in the sink. Well, 50/50 isn't bad! I think it's the molasses. It has a very strong presence in these cookies, but in a good way. (The cookies were awesome with my tea, by the way.)

What I learned: 
I learned quite a lot, and is it silly to admit that I was surprised? I mean, how much can you learn from one cookie recipe?

For one, the recipe really deceived me in how much sugar it called for. A standard oatmeal cookie recipe calls for about 3/4 cup of sugar. Even though at first glance I thought it had very little sugar, it still had the 3/4 cup of sugar, but in different forms - 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup molasses, and 1/4 cup orange marmalade. A very clever way to not use any white sugar at all! Not to mention the flavor was phenomenal. 

And secondly, with the stiff batter, the cookies didn't spread much, and while I wouldn't say they're dense, they are definitely sturdy. This would have been an excellent and important qualification for sending these cookies to soldiers overseas. 

I'm guessing they keep well. I might leave one or two - if I can't help from eating them! - for a week and see how they hold up. Anyway, I'd say this recipe is a delicious success. Try it yourself and see! You might even want to substitute in another type of jam to change it up. Doesn't strawberry or apricot sound awesome?
Let me know if you try them!

Recipe from Victory Cook Book by Lysol (1942)


This booklet has a little blurb about each food group before the recipes. I find them quite fascinating and fun!
Here's the section for Breads & Cereals where the Oatmeal Drop Cookies recipe is found.



Sunday, January 5, 2014

Project 52: RATIONING



www.victoryliving.co.uk
I wanted to dedicate this year to learning more about rationing during World War II and what American and British home cooks had to go through to put a meal on the table. I've always had this dream (albeit a bit on the crazy side) of trying to live for maybe a month on what would have been available with American WWII rations. Maybe it's not the most practical idea...

Obviously, I don't live in a world today where rationing is an issue, but I know I can learn a lot by cooking recipes used when rationing was a reality of life. There's nothing like experiencing it first hand instead of just reading about it in a book.

Recipes during the war came from all kinds of sources - newspapers, magazines, home product companies that published pamphlets that were half advertisement and half guides to cooking with rations, government publications, radio programs, and recipes created and adapted by the home cooks themselves. There definitely is no shortage of recipes to try if you know where to look!

Going through my bookshelf I realized that I was sadly lacking in American WWII recipe books, but had quite a number of British books. I'm finding that the Brits are far more published in this area than Americans! So I ordered a few books and should have them soon. Yay!

So, what I wanted to do was select a different recipe each week this year and make it. I want to try everything from appetizers and main dishes to snacks and desserts. I want to be adventurous and not just do familiar, comfort-style foods that I could see myself making anyway, but other more challenging recipes that use organ meats and obscure things for dessert that I've never had in my life. I think it's going to be an interesting ride.
www.1900s.org.uk

The great thing is that many of the ingredients are easy to find, even today - evaporated milk, powdered milk, sweetened condensed milk, margarine, canned fruit, and powdered eggs. I think the greatest challenge is that I'm going to have to incorporate some of their food saving strategies just to have the ingredients needed like using vegetable peelings to make vegetable broth, saving the water I cook veggies in to use for other things, using the syrup from canned fruit for other recipes, and saving cooking fats. Nothing went to waste!

I'll be trying both British and American recipes and I'll post all the ones I make so you can try them too. Even if WWII rationing is not your thing, trying a few of the recipes would be a great way to experience an important time in our country's history - so why not give it a try?

Sewing Projects?

So, you may (or may not) have noticed that I've had a lack of sewing projects posted on here. Well, that's because I have not done a lick of sewing since I posted last about it (besides one gift). I tend to go through phases where I rotate through various interests of mine. The past few months have been dedicated to learning Korean, doing research on homeschooling stuff, and getting things organized for my WWII reading project. I scaled back on a lot of personal projects just for survival's sake while my husband was overseas for a few months. Now that he's been home for a few weeks and the holidays are over, I feel like I have some more breathing room. Whew!

I'm planning another project to share on here which I will post about separately. I'm pretty excited about it because it involves cooking and baking with a historical twist.

And when it comes to sewing - I cleaned up my sewing space and have three fabric selections out for my next early 1800s dress. I'm going to be trying the cross-over dress pattern from Sensibility.com. I've posted it before, but I have this gorgeous yellow Indian-inspired print that I was thinking of using and making the dress with short sleeves. I hope I have enough fabric! If not I have my blue print or red roller-style print instead.





I also have a lovely gray pinstripe rayon/poly blend for a planned 1940s dress. But let's just finish the projects I have lined up first!