Sunday, February 28, 2016

Museum Spotlight: United States Naval Academy Museum

For our anniversary at the end of last year, my husband planned a whole surprise trip to Annapolis. Annapolis is a gorgeous old city full of wonky brick streets, buildings a couple centuries old, and the picturesque waterfront. We stayed at an old inn across from the historic statehouse. Annapolis is also home to the United States Naval Academy from where many of our astronauts have graduated!

Even though it's a gated campus, we were able to go in and walk around. What's neat is that in one of the buildings is the visitor's center, gift shop, and... a museum! It is possibly the smallest museum I've ever been to, but it was no less interesting!
A view into the museum which was really just a curved hallway that led from the entrance to the gift shop. 

This ship model of the USS Maryland was pretty amazing.
There was a lot of metal on this thing!

Besides the cool naval uniform on the right, I really liked this wall section that mapped out the
Battle of Flamborough Head, 23 Sept. 1779
Despite the museum being small, I was impressed by the different types of exhibit techniques they used. I am a total fan of maps, and the large floor-to-ceiling map of this naval battle above was really cool. I also liked the up close and personal feel of the exhibit below. It's simple and basic, but I think it functions well in their limited space.

"Aboard an 18th Century Warship"

Food ration. Interesting! I love that they have physical examples of the food stuffs.
It's nice to see when fake food is used in a good way.

Warship Foods
The food look so realistic!

Food Rations

This picture depicted the history of women in the Navy.
There was a lot of great information here.

I really liked this part that talked about the WAVES along with the cute WWII poster.

This talks about how women enlisted in the U.S. Navy even in WWI!
I had no idea! 
About the women who enlisted in the U.S. Navy during WWI it says, "During the war 11,275 Yeomanettes had service as office administration, draftsman, interpreters, couriers, and translators; and another 1,550 women served as Navy nurses. In addition, 307 women served in the Marine Corps, mostly in stateside clerical duties at headquarters and at recruiting stations around the country." How fascinating!

This part about the US Naval Academy Astronauts was pretty cool too. It was interesting to see how many astronauts have graduated from there.

U.S. Flag carried aboard Apollo 14, donated by Alan Shepard.

Final resting place of John Paul Jones, a famous U.S. Naval hero.
This is located at the large church/cathedral on campus.

On campus we found this neat gift by the class of 1968.
It's a self orientating sun dial. It's unique because it can tell you both the time and the day.
I love that the pointer is a missile. It just looks retro cool, but considering it was installed during the Cold War, it's a bit sobering as well...

Monday, February 22, 2016

Historical Sewing Challenge #2 - Ruffles or Pleats

So... I cheated on this one. Twice. But I don't really care. I'm sewing, and that's all that matters. Yay!

 1940s Apron

I've had this awesome vintage-inspired fabric since my husband and I were at college in Logan, UT in 2008. I'd gone to the farmer's market and saw this vendor selling a super cute apron made out of this beautiful fabric. I begged her to tell me where she got it, and as soon as I got home, I hunted it down and ordered some. Ever since, I've been waiting for the perfect project, and this 1940s apron was it!

Here's the breakdown:

The Challenge: February - Ruffles or Pleats (I cheated and did scallops. Close enough, right? Besides, putting bias tape on scalloped edges is a pain in the rear! I figured the headache involved justified my cheating. So ha!)

Material: 100% cotton print

Pattern: Wearing History 1940s apron

Year: 1940s (my second cheat. The challenge's cut off date is 1938. Oh well!)

Notions: cotton thread, bias tape, a super cool button from my stash

How historically accurate is it? 100% The 1940s rock. It's so much easier to do sewing in this era. Hallelujah!

Hours to complete: about 4 hours. Maybe less

First worn: the same day I made it. I made dinner wearing it.

Total cost: maybe $20 for fabric, thread, and bias tape. I already had the button

This is a landmark project too. I made my first buttonhole by machine. That's right! I haven't sewed a single button hole in my life on a sewing machine. They've all been done by hand. Need I repeat how much I love the 1940s??

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Indiana Historical Society Museum - Part 1

I am so excited to finally get started on catching up on my museum posts! This one is long overdue. My family and I visited this post's featured museum last August. It's taken me so long because I had accidentally deleted the pictures. I was so devastated, but my wonderful husband was able to recover them for me. Hooray!

So, here's presenting - The Indiana Historical Society Museum!

I wasn't sure what to expect with this museum, but I was completely blown away! In every exhibit they used a wonderful mix of atmosphere, artifacts, reproductions, exhibit space, and interpreters. We visited four exhibits which I will detail below, though the 4th I'll feature in another post since it's chock full of awesomeness! Click on the exhibit title links to visit the webpage about them.

Cole Porter was a famous early 20th century songwriter from Indiana best known for "I Get A Kick Out of You" and the musicals "Kiss Me Kate" and "Anything Goes". This room was set up as a 1940s cabaret-style lounge inspired by the famed NYC Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. 

What I loved about this exhibit was that a young lady dressed in costume was in the room ready to answer questions - and the best part - to sing a song for you! She had a list of Cole Porter songs you could choose from and she'd use an app on her phone to tell the piano which song to play for her. Just stinkin' awesome, let me tell you! Gosh, this exhibit was fun and also really personal. You felt really special being serenaded, and I can't think of a better way to honor Cole Porter's musical heritage than by having someone sing the songs to you.

1st half of the room with the young woman singer and the piano

2nd half of the room with a mock bar, photos, and a TV showing a reel about Cole Porter

"You Are There" was a series of 3 exhibits: an early 1900 photographic studio in Ft. Wayne, a 1950s LS Ayres department store, and maybe a 1930s doctor's office for a well-known African American doctor from Anderson, IN (I didn't end up taking pictures in there and don't remember now which I feel bad for!)

I'm kind of at a loss for words about this exhibit. There's so much to talk about and so much I loved, but I don't really know where to begin!

I guess to start, I can talk about the main room of the exhibit space. The theme linking the 3 exhibits together was being able to "time travel" to their times.
Notice the bright blue square on the left? That is a sheet of fog coming down form the ceiling with an image being projected onto it! You'd walk through the fog and through these large black sliding doors into the past. SO cool.
And if you've ever seen Sea Quest, you'll recognize the technology they borrowed for the fog picture! ;-)

Before we did any time traveling, we went into a room that talked about the history of photography in general and in Indiana. What I loved about this exhibit was that they had different historical photographic negatives of people printed on thick acrylic blocks. You could then hold them over a light to see them properly. Very cool and very sturdy. You could tell they'd been handled quite a bit, but they were still very usable. That, to me, is a great example hands-on exhibit. My kids enjoyed it.

Picture This - Miner Studio, Ft. Wayne, IN

We then "stepped through time" into the early 1900s photography studio of Charles Miner from Ft. Wayne, IN. Inside were two constumed interpreters doing 1st person (I still cringe every time I encounter this method, but these people were really laid back, and I soon felt more at ease.)
The man is explaining to my son how the camera works.
On the photographer's side the image is inverted and my son was curious about that.

Posing area for getting photos taken.

Our kids had a fun time viewing each other "upside down".
I asked the interpreters if I could take their photos, and they laughed a little about it, because their characters are usually the ones taking the pictures I suppose!
They also explained how they took the photographs, colored, and mounted them. It was all very fascinating, and they were able to tell us a lot of interesting tidbits.

What's funny, is that we came back to this exhibit a little later because we didn't realize you could get your photo taken. After taking it, they gave you a paper with a "negative number" with the website where the photo was stored in a "virtual darkroom." Then you could crop your face from the photo and layer over it "old-timey" Victorian people with their old clothing and backgrounds with the faces cut out. It was stinkin' hilarious! Even though the exhibit is over, I'm still able to play around on the site with our negative number. I'll have to try and post some of the pictures!

This exhibit also had a costumed first-person interpreter portraying Mr. Ayres. (He's in the background in the photo below.) LS Ayres is a department store that Hoosiers know well. Sadly, it's out of business now, but as a girl I remember seeing the department store all over the place.

This exhibit had some neat 1950s clothing on display as well as great information about the department store's history.

The thing I loved the best about this exhibit was the kids' hands on "Design your own L.S. Ayres window!" Pretty neat idea!

You Are There 1939: Healing Bodies, Changing Minds

For this exhibit we stepped into the doctor's office of Harvey N. Middleton, M.D. who was a cardiologist in Indianapolis from the mid-1930s, having lived in Anderson, IN before that. According to the Indiana Historical Society website, "during the 1940s he became the first black doctor to practice at both City (now Wishard) and St. Vincent hospitals in Indianapolis.

My son talking with the interpreter

His desk area looked totally cool

He had some interesting cardiology equipment in his office!

Don't mind me in the mirror there...

Cool! Vintage medical stuff!

My kids enjoying the neat "time travel fog".
This one you can clearly see the projected picture.

I felt bad for this man as an interpreter, because he was all alone in this room waiting for people to come in. It was interesting to see how a doctor's office would have looked in the 1930s & 40s, and I learned a lot listening to what it was like for an African-American doctor back then. You can see a photo of Dr. Middleton himself here.

Here's another close look at the "Time Travel Fog"! So cool.

I really can't say enough about this amazing museum. I felt like they helped me connect to history on a entirely different level than I've ever experienced. As a historian and a lover of museums, that's saying quite a lot! What's great about this "You Are There" series, is that they can keep the exhibit spaces as they are for a long time. Then they just rotate out the exhibits with new ones featuring different aspects of Indiana history and the "time travel fog" stays as well with only a change in the projected image. Very smart exhibit planning! Whoever put this idea together, I want to shake their hand! (or hands. I'm sure it was a collaborative effort.)

Stay tuned for part 2! I've got some really thrilling stuff to share!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Historical Sewing Challenge #5 - Holes

Haha! I caught him when he was yawning.

Yes, I'm doing these projects out of order! I have to allow myself the sanity of doing that since I'm still trying to get together our outfits for upcoming events.

April's Historical Sewing Monthly Challenge was "Gender Bender", so making something for the opposite gender, or something that was inspired by the opposite gender's clothing trends. I decided to make a waistcoat for my son to complete his outfit. He already had the fall-front breeches, the shirt I made last month, and now he's fully dressed with the waistcoat! I couldn't have him running around in a state of undress (namely just a shirt and breeches), now could I?

Here's the info:

The Challenge: May - Holes

Material: 100% brown linen, 100% tea-dyed cotton for lining

Pattern: Mill Farm (This pattern had super basic instructions which led to frustrations with the pockets and the vents in the back. I had no idea what I was doing, but luckily it turned out okay.)

Year: 1770

Notions: cotton thread, horn buttons

How historically accurate is it? 95% Still not sure about cotton thread in that time period, but it's what I have. I sewed most of it on the machine too. All the button holes are hand sewn though - all NINE of them. The horn buttons are so pretty!

Hours to complete: approx. 12 hours

First worn: Made for the 18th Century Market Fair at Ft. Frederick, MD in April 2016

Total cost: about $9 for the horn buttons. I've had the cotton for ages, and I got the brown linen as part of a bundle of free scraps from Jas. Townsend & Son's shop in Indiana! (I love their shop!)

I've also had somewhat of an epiphany this month. I've been working to get involved with some WWII reenacting groups and have had wonderful success with a fabulous facebook group of ladies devoted to that hobby. They have been so helpful and welcoming, and I get so giddy and excited thinking about dressing up for the 1940s and teaching people about WWII. Other time periods pale in comparison really.

I've been trying to be honest with myself and we only have so much money in our budget to devote to reenacting. So, I've been thinking that I won't devote any more money towards Rev War. It makes me sad, but I think it's realistic. I've even been wondering if I should go to the trouble of making my own outfit since it takes so much time. I do have all the materials, but time is the biggest issue. It's frustrating since I've already put money into it, especially my custom-drafted corset pattern. I guess time will tell. I'll have to continue thinking about it. But it also means that I might be adjusting my sewing challenge ideas to go more with where my heart is leading. They're not focusing on the 1940s or later for it, so I might have to just post them on here and not be able to share them in the official group, but that's okay. My goal was to do more sewing this year and that sewing challenge was just a vehicle for that goal. I look forward to my new sewing adventures ahead!!

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Reading on a Theme: WWII Week at Intellectual Recreation

My friend, JoLee, who blogs with her sister over at Intellectual Recreation, is spending each day this week talking about books set in WWII. She covers different themes within WWII each day. Today's theme is about displaced children. I love her "reading on a theme" series and am always interested to see the books she discusses. On Friday she'll be featuring my book, The War Between Us, which is quite exciting!

Go on over and check it out!

Click here to see the introductory post from Monday.
Click here to see today's topic about displaced children during WWII.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

WWII Ration Recipe - Armenian Dessert

It's time again for another recipe from Cooking on a Ration by Marjorie Mills! Hooray!

Armenian Dessert

When originally going through the book when I first bought it, the recipe for Armenian Dessert caught my eye. Sounds exotic, doesn't it? Well, it wasn't really. At least not if you've tried shredded wheat before. haha!

This recipe made an interesting, simple, and inexpensive little dessert that would be easy to increase or decrease the amounts to fit any occasion. The main ingredient is large shredded wheat biscuits. It's amazing that they still make them, because I don't know anyone that eats them for breakfast. Do you?

Shredded wheat biscuits with filling awaiting a bake in the oven
You can see the honey glistening on top!
Anyway, I was excited to try the recipe. All you do is dip the shredded wheat biscuits in hot milk, cut open the top half, spoon on the filling of chopped raisins and nut meats, replace the top, drizzle honey over the top and then heat them until warmed through. Super simple! I wasn't sure how they would taste though. Shredded wheat is pretty blah on it's own, but with the honey drizzled over the top along with the filling, it added the touch of sweetness the biscuits need. The raisins and nuts gave it a nice texture too. The recipe said to serve with cream or rich milk, but I had some leftover whipped cream so I put that on there. It was just the right touch of sweetness and fat.

Overall, this dessert was nice! Maybe not my favorite, but easy and adaptable for your preference too. I bet spooning some jam or marmalade inside would be a nice  alternative to honey.

Now the real question is: Do they really serve a dessert like this in Armenia? It might be along the same lines as the Chinese Chews. Who knows? If you do, let me know!

You know, it's a little reminiscent of a bizarre version of baklava...

from Cooking on a Ration by Marjorie Mills

Update! My friend Rachel did a search and found that there actually is some basis to calling this dessert Armenian. Apparently, it's made using shredded filo dough and sometimes shredded wheat can be substituted (though I imagine it wouldn't taste as good as filo!)
Here is a link with a recipe for the more authentic version called Ararat Home Kadayif. Goodness, it looks delicious!
And here is a link for a blogger's memories of her grandmother's Tell Kadayif

Hooray! I'm so excited to find an authentic reference to this ration recipe!