Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Introducing... My 2016 Project

I have felt very put out by not being able to do much sewing last year like I'd wanted. It was very difficult to focus on writing my book and sewing - both very big projects. So, sewing fell into the background, and I got my book finished - which is a good thing! But now, I feel the sewing machine calling me for 2016, and I really want to make some good progress on sewing projects. I've decided to do my best in participating in the Historical Sewing Monthly for 2016. Hopefully, the project will be enough motivation to keep going, since I need to post every month and have a set deadline that's out of my control.

Here are the 2016 challenges with my ideas for each one. The Historicism challenge is a bit mystifying to me, so I'll have to think on that one for awhile. 

The 2016 Challenges:

January –  Procrastination – finish a garment you have been putting off finishing (a UFO or PHD) or make something you have been avoiding starting.
--T’s 18th century shirt (blue check)

February – Tucks & Pleating – make a garment that features tucks and pleating for the shape or decoration
--18th century cap

March – Protection – make something to protect yourself (from weather or injury) or your clothes (from soiling etc.)
-- apron (18th century or Regency) or a Spencer jacket?

April – Gender-Bender – make an item for the opposite gender, or make an item with elements inspired by the fashions of the opposite gender
-- waistcoat for T or 1930s Smooth Sailing trousers

May – Holes – sometimes the spaces between stuff are what makes a garment special.  Make a garment that is about holes, whether it is lace, slashing, eyelets, etc.
-- 18th century corset (start in January!)

June – Travel – make a garment for travelling, or inspired by travel.
-- a housewife (It's an accessory, I know and a bit of a stretch, but I'm being cheeky about this one. haha!)

July – Monochrome – make a garment in black, white, or any shade of grey in between.
-- Haven't decided. Need to do some research and do a hunt through my stash.

August – Pattern – make something in pattern, the bolder and wilder the better.
-- 1930s Smooth Sailing blouse (navy blue w/ awesome buttons) or something from my yellow Indian print

September – Historicism – Make a historical garment that was itself inspired by the fashions of another historical period.
-- ???
October – Heroes – Make a garment inspired by your historical hero, or your historical costuming hero.
-- Dolly Madison? Maybe... or my sewing mentor Suzanne. (She sewed a lot of different eras.)

November – Red – Make something in any shade of red.
-- Regency Cross-over gown or a red 18th century coat/jacket or a 1930s blouse

December – Special Occasion - make something for a special event or a specific occasion, or that would have been worn to special event of specific occasion historically.
-- Haven't decided. Need to do some research.

Some of these are liable to change, but I'm really excited about it. I have a lot of sewing fears to conquer. Mostly it's just getting started on something, but once I move past that, I'm fine. Wish me luck!

I'm not leaving the 1940s by the wayside, though. This year I'd like to try an entire day's menu every month from my Health-For-Victory magazines and from other wartime women's magazines. The idea of the planned menus for an entire month was very popular, so I'll have lots of material to work with. I need to be realistic with my time though. I have marketing for my book to be done as well as working on more writing projects. I feel my time being sucked away all ready!

But like what my husband always tells me: Just take one day at a time. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Year in Reflection

It's the end of December and it's raining right now in Maryland. We haven't seen one lick of snow! It's hard to believe this weather we're having, but I'm glad that at least the plants and trees are getting some moisture. :-)

Throughout this past year I've thought often of 2014's project of ration cooking once a week. I miss it. It was an amazing, exciting experience! This isn't saying I'm going to start up the same project again for 2016, but believe me, I'm tempted!

I actually wanted to share how rationing has changed my cooking - in other words which recipes do I use often as a result of trying them once for my project.

So here goes:

1. Baking Powder Biscuits
I first tried a ration biscuit recipe for my Beef & Vegetable Soup Casserole and fell in love with it. Why? It's actually a pretty basic biscuit recipe, but the difference is the fat. Comparing it to my old fave biscuit recipe which has a 1/2 cup butter, the 1943 recipe only uses 4 Tbsp. (i.e. 1/4 cup)! And they still turn out great. Amazing! I use this one all the time.

2. Beef Biscuit Roll
The first time I tried this recipe, it was a big hit with my family. So, of course I made it again, several times. It's such a delicious and unique way to use ground beef and biscuit dough. The gravy makes it really shine. I just love this dish!

3. Hot Potato Salad with Frankfurters
I love this potato salad, which is saying a lot because I'm super picky about my potato salad. I brought it to a pot-luck and I got a lot of positive comments on it. I love that it has boiled eggs, bacon, and hot dogs in it. I'm sure it helps (of course this is relative...) that you saute the hot dogs with the onions in some of the bacon fat!

4. Prune Nut Cake
This cake is just lovely. Such a wonderful texture and flavor. I adore it, and I also love that it stars the underappreciated prune. I've made this a few times and it's just so pretty. It makes me feel so accomplished when I make it. haha!

5. Mint Tinkle
My kids go crazy for this drink. It's so unique and such a surprise when you drink it. I made this for a WWII lecture that I gave and everyone seemed to find it a delight. Who wouldn't want to drink something called Mint Tinkle?? ;-)

6. Oatmeal Griddle Cakes
This is my go-to recipe when we get tired of regular pancakes. The texture is so creamy, and chewy, and the flavor is great! I don't serve it with the Molasses Syrup though. That stuff is not as tasty as good ol' maple syrup.

7. Beet Relish
I. Love. This. Stuff.
Seriously. Your hot dogs will never be the same.

Friday, December 25, 2015

It's a Wonderful Life!

Merry Christmas!

My husband and I recently celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary. As a surprise, he got us tickets to the play "It's a Wonderful Life" put on by the talented Annapolis Shakespeare Company. I'll admit that I've never actually seen the movie! Shocking, I know! I've seen or heard about bits and pieces of it, but the play was my first experience with the full story.

The most fantastic thing about the play was that it was put on like a 1940s radio show where the audience was the studio audience and we had to applause when the applause lights were on and they did sound effects and commercials - the whole shebang! It was phenomenal! I absolutely adored it. Something interesting is that one of the actors was wheelchair bound and it was amazing to watch him maneuver it on stage and use it to his advantage with the stage blocking. Really great stuff! I've never seen anything like that before. The whole play and the actors impressed me, and it takes a lot for me to be really impressed by a play. I feel so blessed to have seen it! Thanks, hubby! :-)

On a different topic - as I've been winding down on my book work (still toiling with tweaks and the ebook), my thoughts are turning to the coming year and projects I have planned for my blog. I feel my sewing machine calling. I was so sad I could't get to sewing this past year like I wanted. I also have a 1940s project that's been on the back burner for awhile that I'd like to start in January - if you all aren't tired of hearing about the 1940s! I'm also in the planning stages for another book and working on the completed first draft of another book that needs a lot of work. So much to do! I hope by the time January 1st rolls around, I'll have worked out what I'll be doing. So, I'll be posting about that soon.

In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful and happy Christmas and a glorious New Year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Author Highlight: Temple Bailey

Time for another author highlight, where I reintroduce the world to a lesser-known or sadly forgotten author!

My best friend, Mairi, who blogs over at Magpie Tidings, introduced me to the wonderful Temple Bailey. She was a prolific author that wrote from 1902 until the late 1940s. Mairi knows infinitely more about Temple Bailey than I do, so I asked if she'd be my guest writer on this one.

Temple Bailey
by Mairi  McCloud

It is fascinating to me that authors can be so popular in their own day and age, and yet do not stand the test of time. In some cases this is a good thing, as there were some pretty silly novels produced in the early 20th century. But Temple Bailey’s obscurity is not deserved.
   They may not be great epochs, nor scathing social criticisms, but her stories are well written, clean and delightful, and those to whom I have introduced her books have always enjoyed them. She has several strengths that I think could be appreciated by modern audiences still.
 Temple Bailey’s characters are well written, believable and engaging. She has a keen eye for detail and rewards her readers with fabulous descriptions of meals, table settings and clothes. It is also evident that she was very knowledgeable in antiques, and she describes these in many of her novels as well. She also displays a strong patriotism in all her novels. 
   Not much is known of her life, unfortunately. There is a lovely but all too brief autobiography found at the end of the novel Peacock Feathers, in which she expands a little on the author blurb found on the back dust jacket of her novels. Wikipedia fills in a little more — mostly about her books. She was born February 20th, 1869, in Petersburg, Virginia. She boasts of New England ancestry, but displays a deep love of Washington D.C., where she moved at the age of five, and Virginia, to which she returned to attend a girl’s school located in Robert E Lee’s mansion. 
   So far as I can gather, she never married. Not a strong child, she did most of her learning from her mother, saying, “[M]y father in my out-of-school days supervised my English as carefully as my mother supervised my manners.” She displays a great passion for life: cities, country and her fellow man.
   She began publishing stories in magazines around 1902 - The Saturday Evening Post, Woman’s Home Companion and McCall’s among them. Perhaps she wrote of necessity, as she professed herself unambitious that way. She was very successful, making the Bestseller’s List three times: in 1919 for The Tin Soldier (number 8), 1923 for The Dim Lantern (number 5) and 1926 for The Blue Window (number 10). Two of her novels, Peacock  Feathers and Wallflowers were made into films. Her last novel, Red Fruit was published in 1945, and she died July 6, 1953. 

Thank you, Mairi! I am so grateful she introduced me to such a lovely author. One of the things that I love about Bailey's writing is that she has the ability to leave the reader breathless. And while some parts of the love story may seem silly, I feel she instills into her stories a level of deep and provoking thought that is not as commonly found in love stories from that time.

The first book I read of hers was The Tin Soldier, and it was such a wonderful, sweeping love story with a very strong patriotic ending. The book is set during WWI and was published right after that war in 1919. I was completely captivated, because the author was a first hand witness and then wrote about that time. It's a perfect way to get a real sense of a time period!

The next book I read was Wallflowers and I loved it even more than The Tin Soldier. Wallflowers is set in Washington DC in the late 20s and you really get Bailey's love for that city, as well as for Virginia, and for antiques. There are some delicious descriptions in there, and the family relationships are so wonderful as well. Most recently, I finished reading Peacock Feathers. The voice of her main character was absolutely mesmerizing. It wasn't my favorite of her books I've read thus far, but it was definitely a delight, even poetical in a way.

Besides her awesome name, which makes the best pen name ever, I think it should be noted that all of Bailey's books have fabulous art in them from the time.

Unfortunately, the only places you'll be able to find Temple Bailey books are on ebay or a lucky find at an antique or used book shop. I'd really recommend her though! If you get the chance to read one her books, don't pass it up. She is such a treasure among authors and deserves to be remembered.

This is the cover to my book of hers Wallflowers
cover art by R. P. Coleman
Cover for The Tin Soldier
art by Coles Phillips
Thanks to Mairi for the photo of her book cover!
Inside picture plate from The Tin Soldier by artist F. Vaux Wilson
Frontispiece art from Peacock Feathers by Coles Phillips
Inside picture plate from Mistress Anne
art by F. Vaux Wilson
Thanks to Mairi for this one too!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

It's Published!

I did it! My book is finally published. Whew! It is such a relief, and the most amazing, bizarre feeling to see it sitting on the shelf and for sale online. If you're interested you can search for it on Amazon by my author pen name or the title: The War Between Us by Sarah Creviston Lee.

My book is a love story, but it's mainly about the experience of a Korean American young man during WWII. It's a rare topic, and I feel very privileged to have been able to research and write about it. The Korean American wartime experience is so fascinating! Check out my tab above to read more about the book, and to check out some research pins on my Pinterest board.

And like I've said before, I don't plan on using my site to advertise/market my book. This post is just to let you know it's out, and I hope to write more on here in the future on what I learned about the Korean American wartime experience.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor - Battleship Row

Today is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

It's unfortunate, but I think we can to relate to what Americans felt when they heard the news that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. It reminds me of the same things we felt after 9/11 - disbelief, horror, and the utter heartbreak at so much death.

While it is sad and difficult at times, it is good to remember our past. There was so much hate, suspicion, and prejudice as a result of Pearl Harbor. Not just Japanese and Japanese Americans were put into internment camps, but starting the same night of Pearl Harbor, many Germans and Italians in America were arrested and put into camps as well. Anyone who looked Asian, no matter their ethnicity, were hated, ridiculed, and sometimes harmed with violence. There is no doubt it was a terrible and mournful time in our country's history, and we would benefit so much from examining those events and ourselves today. 

I don't think I have to tell you that history repeats itself. We, as humans, ultimately don't really change, no matter what the day and age, unless we decide to make change. What better way to honor our ancestors and the memory of their sacrifice than being that change.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Book Updates

It's been a little quiet here. I had no idea how intense it would be working on my book's proof edits. (They were a little crazy! Who knew I had so many mistakes?)
I was trying to make it for the December 7th deadline to publish, but it's not going to happen. Ah, well! Hopefully this week at least.

I've decided not to use my blog to promote/sell my book, because I really want to keep this blog not-for-profit. I think it's okay to mention it on here, because it's definitely historically related, ;-) but I won't be putting in a link for the book's Amazon page or anything. You're welcome to search for it on your own.

If you'd like to learn more about my book and the neat history behind some of the things I wrote about, check out the new tab I put up. I've got a link to my pinterest board there.

Thanks for your understanding and I look forward to getting back to normal writing on here once the books is complete! I have lots of projects planned that I can't wait to share with you.

Thank you for hanging in there!