Posts tagged with: history

Stepping Back in Time with Jeannie Watt

Today I’m thrilled to welcome fellow SuperRomance author Jeannie Watt to the lair! Jeannie is one talented lady and I highly recommend you all check out her books including her latest reelease, CROSSING NEVADA! Here’s Jeannie…

I can’t say that I’ve always loved to sew, but my mom made certain that I knew how to sew, which came in very handy when  I immersed myself in Gone With the Wind at the age of fifteen and decided that I simply had to have some southern belle gear.

At that time, there were no readily available patterns for such things as corsets and hoop skirts, but there was the library. I checked out many books, studied pictures and made a plan. I would start from the inside and work out, since corsets took less fabric than hoop skirts. My mother is the sensible sort and had I asked her for nine yards of fabric so that I could indulge in a fantasy, I don’t know that she would have been in favor. Not when that same nine yards of fabric could have made me three school outfits.

I found some sturdy floral fabric that I believe was originally intended to upholster something and began working on my corset. I had no idea what whalebone was, but it seemed to me that baling wire should be a suitable substitute.  I’m pleased to say that my baling wire/upholstery fabric corset actually turned out pretty well, although I never got the chance to wear it. I couldn’t find enough fabric to make a dress to go over it. My baling wire hoops didn’t work quite so well and before I got the design flaws worked out, I started reading Regency romance and abandoned hoops and corsets. From that point on, I was all about empire waists—which also happened to be in style, so I could indulge.

Fast forward a couple of boring, non-costumed decades to December 2011 to when I found out that a friend of my husband sang at Dicken’s Fair.

Dicken’s Fair…hoop skirts…

The seed was planted. The sewing began—for the entire family. It took about six months but I got everyone outfitted. Do you have idea how much more comfortable actual store-bought boning is compared to baling wire? There is no comparison. I still haven’t got to wear real hoops, though. My daughter and I settled for stiff crinolines, which worked, but next year we’re wearing hoops for sure. I have plans for a new dress and my husband, the non-costume guy, wants a fancier vest.

The most wonderful part of preparing for Dicken’s Fair is that, despite a rather hectic schedule, I had an excuse to sew. I became so involved with sewing that when I wrote my December SuperRomance, Crossing Nevada, it was natural to have my heroine learn to sew as a way to deal with the trauma of being attacked and permanently scarred. She never made a hoop skirt, but she did find confidence learning a new skill.

Have you ever made anything comparable to a baling wire corset? Indulged in a little costume mania? Learned to sew? Tell me your secret costume fantasy or what you love to do in your spare time and I’ll give away copies of Crossing Nevada to three respondents.

It’s been great being here. Thanks for having me!

Thanks for being with us, Jeannie! Don’t forget to check out Jeannie’s website:

Lime Muffins

Jeannie Watt

These are a wonderful Sunday breakfast muffin. They have a lovely crunch on the outside and are deliciously moist on the inside.

 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup milk

2 eggs lightly beaten

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon grated lime rind

1/4 cup lime juice

Preheat over to 400°F. Grease twelve 2 ½ inch muffin pan cups.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into large bowl.

Mix milk, eggs, oil, lime rind and lime juice in a two-cup measure. Add all at once to flour mixture; stir lightly with fork until just moist. (Batter will be lumpy.) Spoon into prepared muffin-pan cups, filling each three quarters full.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Remove muffins from cups to wire rack. Serve warm with butter.

Note—these muffins are a bit flat on top, but the taste makes it totally worthwhile not to have a mini-mountain muffin.

It’s the 12 Bandita Days of Christmas! From now until December 25th we’re celebrating the holidays with daily recipes and PRIZES! It’s all leading up to a HUGE Prize bundle of books and goodies on Christmas Day so make sure you stop back each day!

7 Interesting Aussie Facts…

..for people who don’t live here! Especially if you’re from North America!

I’m a proud little Aussie gal!

Just now, I’m particularly proud (not for nationalistic reasons) because my seventh historical romance SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED recently hit the shelves.

In honor of all the 7s doing the rounds, I thought I’d pick out seven interesting facts about Australia that foreigners may find interesting.

So here are seven mostly obscure facts about my beloved homeland that you can use to dazzle the guests at your next barbecue:

7.            Apart from Antarctica, Australia is the world’s driest continent. Perhaps that explains our dry sense of humor!

6.            Australia is one of the few nations to send athletes to every modern summer Olympic Games. We’ve hosted the Olympics twice – in 1956 and 2000.

5.            In World War II, we came very close to Japanese invasion (Darwin was bombed and there were Japanese submarines creating havoc in Sydney Harbor). Hundreds of thousands of American troops under the command of General MacArthur came to Australia to fight in the Pacific arena. So on behalf of my nation, a big thank you to the United States!

4.            We had a series of gold rushes from the early 1850s through to about 1900, just in time for miners from San Francisco to hop on the nearest sailing ship and float across the Pacific to dig for the yellow stuff. The gold rushes established Australia’s prosperity and population – and when you look at the records, you’d be amazed how many Americans made the trip to our sunny shores!

3.            We have some very strange animals (no, I’m not talking about the types who hang around our local pubs and clubs after midnight on a Saturday!). There are koalas and kangaroos and echidnas and wombats. I want to talk about the platypus here – this duck-billed, egg-laying mammal is so strange that when the first specimens reached London (stuffed, not live) in the early 19th century, the scientific community was convinced it was a hoax.

2.            A couple of American slang terms have very different meanings in Australia, something which gives us great (and childish) amusement. In America, if you ‘root’ for someone, you’re cheering them on. In Australia, ‘root’ means intimate relations. And don’t start me on fanny pack! In some things, we’re two nations divided by a common language!

1.            There’s a myth that we ride kangaroos down the main streets of our biggest cities. This is completely untrue. The kangaroos of Australia formed a union (the HEA – Hopping Entities of Australia – affiliated to the Transport Workers Union) in 1934 to object to this cruel and unusual treatment. Now the kangaroos ride the Aussies! There’s a whole underclass of people who work as Roo-shaws!

OK, not ALL those facts are 100% true. Can you tell which one? However, having read this post, even if you don’t come from my wide brown land, you may now consider yourselves honorary Aussies. Have a stubbie in your stubbies on the black stump outback of beyond in the never-never.

I’d love to know an interesting fact about where you live. And hey, it doesn’t even have to be true! 

I’ve got a signed copy of SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED available for one lucky commenter today. So get commenting, people. Or as we say in Oz, drag up a stump for your rump and have a chinwag, mate.

Walking in the steps of history

By Trish Milburn

One of my favorite school subjects has always been history, particularly American history. One of my minors in college was in History. So it’s no surprise that I love visiting historic sites be they homes, battlefields, roads, whatever.

Growing up in the South, you can almost pitch a rock in any direction and hit something that has a tie to the Civil War. Historic re-enactments almost always pit the blue against the gray. But one of my favorite periods in American History is actually Colonial/Revolution. So this summer when I had the opportunity to visit New England for the first time, I was mucho excited. I was going to see places that really helped to shape our country before it even became the United States of America.

There have been times when I’ve visited a place of such historical significance that it was surreal. I felt that way the first time I visited Washington, D.C., in high school. All those monuments, the Smithsonian, the White House — those were things that you just saw on the nightly news. Several years later, I took a driving trip out West and stopped at several points along the Oregon Trail in Nebraska and Wyoming. There are parts such as Windlass Hill in Western Nebraska where you can still see the ruts from the wagons that were headed west along the Oregon Trail. Fast forward to 2003 and my first trip to New York City. I had the same surreal feeling when I visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

This summer, I experienced it again when I stopped at Minute Man National Historic Park outside of Boston. Here I walked along the road (pictured here) that Paul Revere rode down to warn the countryside that the British were coming. The park and the Battle Road commemorate the famous Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, the beginning of the American Revolution. I stood in the middle of the road and was hit with an overwhelming sense of history.

The big destination for my trip, however, was Salem, Massachusetts, set of the infamous witch trials in 1692. I have a YA paranormal trilogy coming out next year, and books 2 and 3 take place in Salem, so I wanted to see it firsthand. I walked all over town, and you can tell how steeped the town is in its witch history. Museums dedicated to the witch trials, businesses with names like the Witch’s Brew Cafe, and visitors touring cemeteries. There’s also a memorial comprised of 20 carved stone benches. Each one lists the name of one of the victims of the trials, when they died and how they died. 19 people were hanged and one pressed to death as a result of the hysteria that had no basis.

In nearby Marblehead, I visited the grave of Wilmot Redd, the only person from Marblehead to be executed for being a witch.

Another must-see in Salem is a literary landmark. The famed House of the Seven Gables (pictured), made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne, sits overlooking the harbor.

They have a very nice tour that takes you through the circa 1668 house and showcases its history and construction. I happened to visit on Hawthorne’s birthday, so everyone was in a festive mood. Also on the property is Nathaniel Hawtorne’s birthplace and a nice gift shop where I just might have purchased some witch-themed novels and a very pretty pair of earrings. 🙂

Now I’m curious — do you enjoy visiting historical sites? If so, what kinds in particular? Have you ever visited a site where you really felt the history of the place? If so, where? And tell us about your favorite historic site.

My Life In Hair

by Caren Crane

I have posted lots of comments about my hair lately. All this hair talk led me to reflect on my hair and the role it has played in my life. Hair is the single most defining feature of a person, for me, and having uncooperative hair ruins my entire day. History, hairstory, it’s one and the same in my world. So indulge me and let’s take a trip down hair memory lane.

1968: I have pics of me with the classic pixie haircut (rather like the poor child in this picture). Unfortunately, I had insanely crooked teeth (even as a toddler) and a big, goofy smile. My hair was then (as it is now) fine and straight with no discernable body. An unfortunate style for me, but I’m sure it was low-maintenance for my poor mother.

1977: A new hairdo swept the country: the Dorothy Hamill. See how cute Dorothy was? I was not so cute, but Dorothy seduced me. I was 12 and anxious for a real haircut. Since the pixie days my hair had been long and straight, with rather unfortunate bangs. I bit the bullet and got the Dorothy Hamill. The sad results may be seen in my junior high yearbook pictures, though I did develop amazing skills with the blow dryer and curling iron in these years.

1979: High school. I spent countless hours in front of the mirror curling, brushing, lifting and spraying. Finally, I succumbed to the trend of the early ’80s: the perm. My poor mother permed my hair countless times, cussing and swearing never to do it again every time. The results were not quite like the ones seen here, but close. I segued from long (frankly, very attractive) permed hair to a short and incredibly unattractive Princess-Diana type cut in 1982. I still have no idea why I cut off all my gorgeous curly hair, but we lived in Houston at the time and I was sweltering, seventeen and depressed. I’m sure that’s what did it.

1984: Beware the savage jaw, indeed (that’s for you Bowie fans!). College and working in a women’s clothing store required me to step up the hair. My hair was asymmetrical, rather like this pic in spirit, except it was a little longer and it was the 80s, so I punked it up with DEP and it stood straight up on top. I was hip, happening and way too cool for school. Which could be the reason I ended up withdrawing from college for a couple of years before finding my way back – to engineering school! (I had the best hair in the college of engineering – okay, there wasn’t much competition. *g*)

1991: At this point, I was working in the corporate world, had a young child and not much money. For several years, the hair was long and straight, mainly pulled back in a ponytail, with bangs. But I got it cut regularly, deep conditioned, did hot oil treatments and always paid lots of attention to the bangs. Bangs: feathered, sometimes sideswept. Ponytail: high, low, teased at crown, you name it. Whatever I could muster the energy to do, I did!

1999: Sometime in the late 90s, I emerged from the fog of having three young children and decided I needed, once again, a real haircut. After quite a bit of searching, I found the long layers of my dreams. My hair looked quite like this picture. I loved it, even though it took 20 minutes of blow drying and three round brushes to style. It was dead sexy. *sigh* Remind me, why did I ever cut it off?

2006: Oh, yes. Now that I was past a significant birthday, I felt the need to lose the long, sexy layers. (At this point, some dear friend should have slapped me silly, but alas none are quite as take-charge as I am. *sigh*) My hair had been trending shorter over the years and in 2006, I went short and sassy. Thus, I ended up with the hair you see in my picture on the right of the blog. So cute (but not dead sexy)!

Today: Right now, I am letting it grow a little longer again, easing back toward medium-length layers. Maybe I’ll be happy with that for a few months. Maybe it will help me bring sexy back. Please!

I have, as you can guess, spared you the many hairstyles in between – and there were more than I can recall. I am defined by my hair and it invariably reflects how I feel about myself and my life. I can’t even get into hair color right now, that’s a whole ‘nother blog! Sometimes I fear it’s incredibly shallow and vain of me, but most of the time I just glance sidelong into mirrors as I pass and admire my handiwork. *g*

So, how do you feel about your hair? Do you wash and go or, like me, spend far too much time styling, spraying, and adjusting each strand? Have you fallen victim to any trendy hairstyles? I can’t wait to hear everyone’s hairstory!