tisdag 31 mars 2009


Aren't you glad that we live in a time when we're not supposed to wear corsets? I found this ad in "Golden Days for Boys and Girls, Volume VIII, No 25: May 21, 1887" and learnt from some fashion plates from 1891 that this is how they dressed at that time.

I who potter around in pants and sweaters XXXL (and I'm a rather small person) almost lose my breath when I look at these pictures. I'm sure their servants were tidier dressed than I am. No wonder they had to carry smelling salts in their reticules.
In another magzine The Girl's Own Paper, Vol. VIII: No. 356, October 23, 1886. I read an article called " DRESS: IN SEASON AND IN REASON.by A LADY DRESSMAKER".

The bodice was of the plain, and it had a plastron, or waistcoat front, of the plaid. The buttons (as are many in use this year) are of smoked pearl, and are very small for the fronts of gowns and larger for the jacket-bodices. Bretelles of velvet are used as trimmings to the bodices of these rough woollens, and the collars and cuffs are almost invariably of the same material, which seems likely to retain its popularity through the winter. The velvet collars are both useful and becoming, and, in addition, they save white trimmings at the neck. We rather rejoice in our emancipation from that bondage, and I hear many people say they will never resume it again, now they have once found that they can look well without the once inevitable white collar or frill. The tendency in every woman's mind who is possessed of ordinary good sense is to simplify everything connected with clothes, and I feel sure we shall all be healthier and happier when we have banished many things from our wardrobes which we now think absolutely needful.

Dr. Jaeger's sanitary woollen clothing," about which I have so often written in praise, has raised up some rival manufactures amongst our English makers, who have long been famous for their merino or lambswool stuffs. Pure woollen under-garments in England have always been thought to wear and to wash badly, and much of this has probably been owing to the fact that the washing was very bad and that no one before Dr. Jaeger ever tried washing woollens scientifically, so as to take out the grease and perspiration, and not to harden the material at the same time. By Jaeger's method this is done with lump ammonia and soap. The soap is cut into small pieces and boiled into a lather with water, and the lump ammonia is then added. This lather is used at about 100° Fahrenheit, and the clothes must not be rubbed, but allowed to soak for about an hour in the water, and must then be drawn backwards and forwards repeatedly in the bath till clean. Three waters are to be used, the two after the first lather being of the same heat, and of pure clean water. This leaves the clothes delightfully soft and supple, and their wearing qualities suggest nothing further as an improvement.

From a recently-published book I gather the following ideas, and as they coincide with what I am always impressing on my readers with reference to tight dresses and stays, I quote them gladly, as showing that there are other sensible women in the world, a class which I hope will every day increase:—"If you lace tightly, nothing can save you from acquiring high shoulders, abnormally large hips, varicose veins in your legs, and a red nose. Surely such penalties, to say nothing of heart disease, spinal curvature, and worse, are sufficiently dreadful to deter either maids or matrons from unduly compressing their waists? No adult woman's waist ought to measure less in circumference than twenty-four inches at the smallest, and even this is permissible to slender figures only. The rule of beauty is that the waist should be twice the size of the throat. Therefore, if the throat measure twelve and a half inches, round the waist should measure twenty-five. The celebrated statue know as the 'Venus de Medici,' the acknowledged type of beauty and grace, has a waist of twenty-seven inches, the height of the figure being only five feet two inches." (Here I had to find a measure tape to see if I can compare myself to 'Venus de Medici. My throat is 30 cm [8.1 inches] and my waist 62 cm [24.4 inches] - and I'm only slightly taller than she was).
And, while on this subject, I must mention that some new stays, made of elastic material, have recently been advertised, which I should imagine were comfortable. Dr. Jaeger also has an elastic knitted bodice on his list, which is in reality a description of stays, and would afford sufficient support to a slight figure.

The pattern for this month will, I hope, be a surprise, as well as a great comfort, to those of my readers who select it, and who wish to attain to the greatest amount of comfort and hygienic advantages in their underclothing. The pattern in question is a combination nightgown, or lady's "pyjama," and is a novelty which will be found of much value and comfort. It consists of five pieces—front, back, lower back, and two sleeve pieces. The method of putting together is carefully indicated by marks in the pattern, and no difficulty will be experienced in the making-up. The amount of material required will be from 4½ to 5 yards, and calico, flannel, or swansdown, or the new cotton flannel, may, any of them, be used to make it. For the winter season it will be found to supply a great increase in warmth, and, to the invalid, a great comfort, as it fits closely, will not form creases, nor "ruck up," as the ordinary nightgown always does, to the discomfort of the wearer.
Each of the patterns may be had of "The Lady Dressmaker," care of Mr. H. G. Davis, 73, Ludgate-hill, E.C., price 1s. each. It is requested that the addresses be clearly given, and that postal notes, crossed so as to be eligible only to go through a bank, may be sent, as so many losses have occurred through the sending of postage stamps. The patterns already issued can always be obtained, as "The Lady Dressmaker" shows constantly in her articles how they can be made use of.

I'd love to have that pattern

söndag 29 mars 2009


There is another flower, too,
I dearly love to see;
The little Snowdrop, peeping through
The frozen ground at me.
From "A Little Girl to her Flowers in Verse", 1828
"The frail snowdrop
Born of the breath of Winter."
0000000000 Barry Cornwall0
I always find more than I can possible read — or even look at — when checking out Gutenberg. Yesterday I looked at quite a few books but ended up reading the ones with a flower theme, like "The plant-lore and garden-craft of Shakespeare" from 1814 by Rev. Henry Nicholson Ellacombe of Oriel College, Oxford, Vicar of Bitton, Gloucestershire, and Hon. Canon of Bristol. He says: "I shall show that the number of flowers he introduces is large, but the number he omits, and which he must have known, is also very large, and well worth noting. He has no notice, under any name, of such common flowers as the Snowdrop, the Forget-me-Not, the Foxglove, the Lily of the Valley, and many others which he must have known, but which he has not named; because when he names a plant or flower, he does so not to show his own knowledge, but because the particular flower or plant is wanted in the particular place in which he uses it."
But in "The Enchanted Castle — A Book of Fairy Tales from Flowerland" with illustrations by John R. Neill you can read about

GREAT many years ago, when Adam and Eve were turned out of Eden for their disobedience, Eve looked out over the bare and desolate earth and wept for the beauty she had lost.
Before this it had always been summer-time. The sun had always shone, and Eve had breathed the fragrance of the flowers, day after day, and gathered them at her own sweet will.
But now it was winter, and all was changed. The trees stood bare and leafless; no birds sang in their branches; no sweet blossoms raised their heads to catch the sun's warm rays. The skies were gray and cheerless, and ever the soft white snow kept falling silently, "like the footsteps of angels descending upon earth."
But the good God in Heaven saw Eve sit weeping, and looked down on her with pitying eyes, and turning to one of the bright angels who stood by, ready to do His bidding, He said:
"See how yonder poor woman sits weeping. Go swiftly and do what thou canst to comfort her," and the angel spread her wings and sped earthward with the falling snow.
"Tell me why thou weepest," she said, as she placed her hand gently upon the head of the weeping woman.
And Eve replied, "I weep because the earth is bare and desolate, and there is nought that is beautiful to be seen. I pray thee tell me, if thou canst, where are the flowers that I love so well. Tell me, shall I ever see them more?"
The angel smiled, and stretching out her hand to catch the falling flakes of snow, said:
"Is not this beautiful? So white, so pure, so gentle. It is the covering which your Heavenly Father in His great love spreads over the cold earth."
And even as she spoke the snowflake in her hand took form and budded and blossomed into a pure white flower, which hung its dainty head and trembled as if afraid to look upon the world into which it had been born.
Then Eve dried her tears and broke forth into smiles as the angel handed her the frail blossom, saying:
"It is a snowdrop. Take it, Eve, for it is a promise of better things to come. Never again doubt your Father's love. You have only to wait, and when the winter's snows have gone and the summer sun shines once more, the flowers will bloom again as beautiful as ever."
Then Eve watched the angel return to Heaven, until the gleam of her silver wings was no longer to be seen. She still carried in her hand his tiny gift and as she turned away she saw that where the angel's feet had rested the snow had melted away, and on the green grass beneath was growing a lovely cluster of snowdrops.

And every year since then, when the winter snows disappear, these sweet forerunners of the spring are found in the woods and dells, bringing a message of hope and a promise of brighter days to come.
Many years afterwards the monks were fond of planting the snowdrop in their beautiful gardens. Not only did it teach them a lesson of faith and trust, but its sweet white blossoms were regarded as an emblem of purity. And poets have always loved to sing the praises of this, the earliest flower of spring.

lördag 28 mars 2009


This was yesterday morning, since then the flowers have disappeared under 15 cm of snow. And more is on its way.
I'm staying close to the fire checking out Gutenberg and hope to report some findings later.


onsdag 25 mars 2009

Afternoon tea

How Shall We Make Tea?
How shall tea be drawn or infused? Is there but one standard method for all teas, or all persons? Certainly not. A method which will suit very many delicate tastes may be briefly stated: Use water as free as possible from impurities, from earthly matters like lime. If water is boiled too long its contained air is expelled and the tea will have a "flat" taste. Use an earthen teapot by preference; one which is never applied to any other purpose. A preliminary warming of the dry teapot is advised. Drop in your tea leaves, and pour on the whole quantity of water required, while at boiling temperature. Set in warm but not very hot situation to steep, avoiding so far as practicable, loss of vapor and aroma from the teapot.

Now, as to the length of time tea should steep: — it will vary with different teas and different tastes. Some steep tea but three minutes; others double the time; while still others extend the time to 15 minutes. In any event, as soon as the characteristic flavor is extracted from the leaves, known by the loss of an agreeable tea-odor in the withdrawn leaves, the beverage will be improved rather than impaired by pouring it off into a clean teapot, in which the tea may then be preserved for along time without injury.

To some tastes, a little of the tannin is agreeable, and its absence would be missed. Then as to sugar or milk: it is evidence of exaggerated personality (conceit, some call it), to declare that milk or cream or sugar injure the flavor of tea. As well insist upon a special spice being used for all viands because the critic likes it. To hold the Chinese up as examples of what is proper in tea drinking is to offer a limit to human progress. As milk or cream neutralize the tannin to a considerable extent, they are so far desirable, without regard to taste.

From "Tea Leaves" By Francis Leggett & Co.

tisdag 24 mars 2009

Afternoon tea

William Howitt (1792-1879)
William Howitt found great refreshment in both tea and coffee,but he wrote that on his great pedestrian journeys, "Tea wouldalways in a manner almost miraculous banish all my fatigue, anddiffuse through my whole frame comfort and exhilaration withoutany subsequent evil effect. Tea is a wonderful refresher andreviver."

måndag 23 mars 2009

Afternoon tea

William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850)
by William Shuter
Wordsworth was a lover of tea, and he sweetened his tea beyondthe taste of ordinary mortals.

Tea break

Lady at the Tea Table
Mary Cassatt

I won't abandon the computer but I might not post regularly in a while.

söndag 22 mars 2009

Afternoon tea

William Hazlitt (1778-1830)
The only stimulant that Hazlitt indulged in was strong Black tea,using the very best obtainable.

Taking Tea Today

The Breakfast Table, 1883-1884
John Singer Sargent

lördag 21 mars 2009

Afternoon tea

Is there no Latin word for Tea? Upon my soul, if I
had known that I would have let the vulgar stuff alone.
00000000000000 Hilaire Belloc

Taking Tea Today

Time for Tea
George Goodwin Kilburne

fredag 20 mars 2009

Afternoon tea

by Charles J. Everett

 This homely can of painted tin
Is casket precious in my eyes;
Its withered fragrant leaves within,
Beyond all costly gems I prize.

For for those crumpled leaves of tea,
The sunbeams of long summer days,
The song of bird, the hum of bee,
The cricket's evening hymn of praise,

 The gorgeous colors of sunrise,
The joy that greets each new-born day;
The glowing tints of sunset's skies,
The calm that comes with evening grey;

 The chatter of contented toil,
The merry laugh of childish glee,
The tonic virtues of the soil,
Were caught and gathered with the tea.

 Lifeless those withered leaves may seem,
Locked fast in slumber deep as death,
But soon the Kettle's boiling steam
May rouse to life their fragrant breath.

 With sigh of deep content we breath
The sweet mists rising lazily,
With eager, parted lips receive 

the first ambrosial taste of tea.

 For light and warmth and mood of men,
Whate'er the plant hath heard or seen
Or felt, while fixed in field or fen,
And stored within its depths serene,

 Are now transmuted into thrills
Of sense or feeling, echoes faint
From peaceful perfumed tea-cladhills,
From placid Orientals quaint.

 And fancies born in other lands,
Which dormant lie in magic tea,
Dream-castles fair not made with hands,
By some mysterious alchemy

 Emerge from cloudland into sight,
Transform the sombre working-world,
The gloomy hours of day or night
From leaden hue to tint of gold,

 Bring rest to wearied heart and brain,
Kind nature's soul to us reveal,
Enlarge the realm of Fancy's reign,
Renew the power to see and feel

 The radiance of the rising sun,
The sunset's glow, the moon's pale light,
The promise of a day begun,
The rest from toil that comes with night.

 And as I sip my cup of tea,
Though not a friend may be in sight,
I know that a brave company
Is taking tea with me this night.

Taking Tea Today

torsdag 19 mars 2009

Afternoon tea


The spirit of the tea beverage is one of peace, comfort and refinement.

000000000 Arthur Gray

Taking Tea Today

Still Life with Teapot
Charles Camoin

onsdag 18 mars 2009

Afternoon tea

Meanwhile Hanna the housemaid had closed and fastened the shutters, Spread the cloth, and lighted the lamp on the table, and placed there Plates and cups from the dresser, the brown ryeloaf and the butter Fresh from the dairy, and then, protecting her hand with a holder, Took from the crane in the chimney the steaming and simmering kettle, Poised it aloft in the air, and filled the earthen teapot, Made in delft, and adorned with quaintand wonderful figures.

From Tea Leaves by Francis Leggett & Co.

Taking Tea Today

Scandal and Tea
Walter Dendy Sadler

tisdag 17 mars 2009

Afternoon tea

Since I own a cup for Tea-cup Reading I had to take a look at "Tea-Cup Reading, and the Art of Fortune-Telling" by Tea Leaves by 'A Highland Seer'. Even if the book describes how to read the leaves in an ordinary cup and not the kind I have.
Any person after a study of this book and by carefully following the principles here laid down may with practice quickly learn to read the horary fortunes that the tea-leaves foretell. It should be distinctly understood, however, that tea-cup fortunes are only horary, or dealing with the events of the hour or the succeeding twenty-four hours at furthest. The immediately forthcoming events are those which cast their shadows, so to speak, within the circle of the cup. In this way the tea-leaves may be consulted once a day, and many of the minor happenings of life foreseen with considerable accuracy, according to the skill in discerning the symbols and the intuition required to interpret them which may be possessed by the seer. Adepts like the Highland peasant-women can and do foretell events that subsequently occur, and that with remarkable accuracy. Practice and the acquirement of a knowledge of the signification of the various symbols is all that is necessary in order to become proficient and to tell one's fortune and that of one's friends with skill and judgment.
_ _ _
The best kind of tea to use if tea-cup reading is to be followed is undoubtedly China tea, the original tea imported into this country and still the best for all purposes. Indian tea and the cheaper mixtures contain so much dust and so many fragments of twigs and stems as often to be quite useless for the purposes of divination, as they will not combine to form pictures, or symbols clearly to be discerned.

If the consultant be single this cup will, by means of the hare on the side, tell him that he will speedily be married. The figure of a lady holding out an ivy-leaf is a sign that his sweetheart will prove true and constant, and the heart in conjunction with a ring and the initial 'A' still further points to marriage with a person whose name begins with that letter. The flower, triangle, and butterfly are all signs of prosperity, pleasure and happiness.
Principal Symbols:—
Hare sitting on side.

Butterfly near rim.
Heart and ring.
Large flower on edge of bottom.
Figure of woman holding ivy-leaf in bottom.
Initials 'A' and small 'C' with dots.

Taking Tea Today

High Tea
Abbott Fuller Graves (1859-1936)

måndag 16 mars 2009

Afternoon tea


I wish we could sit down together
And have a cup of tea
But since we can’t
When you have this one
I hope you’ll think of me.
00000 Anonymous Author

Taking Tea Today

Tea Time
Edward Portielje (1861 - 1949)

söndag 15 mars 2009

Afternoon tea

One tablespoon of butter, one cup of sugar, three eggs, one half cup of milk, one and one half cups of flour, two teaspoons of baking powder.
Filling.—Two cups of sugar, two thirds cup of milk, boil thirteen minutes, add butter the size of a small egg, one good teaspoon of vanilla, when done stir till thick enough to spread and not to run, bake in three, spread between and on top.

One cup of sugar, one cup of butter, four eggs well beaten, one cup molasses, one pound stoned raisins, one teaspoonful each of saleratus, cloves, cinnamon and allspice, one nutmeg and four cups of flour.

From My Pet Recipes, Tried and True — Contributed by the Ladies and Friends of St. Andrew's Church, Quebec.

The amount of sugar and molasses sounds insane, very unhealthy — and not even good......

Taking Tea Today

George Dunlop, R.A., Leslie (1835-1921)

lördag 14 mars 2009

Saturday with Gutenberg

Today had some lovely old books in store for me. I've spent most of the day reading "The Orbis Pictus" "the first children’s picture book". It is a textbook in Latin.
"The first edition of this celebrated book was published at Nuremberg in 1657; soon after a translation was made into English by Charles Hoole. The last English edition appeared in 1777, and this was reprinted in America in 1812. This was the first illustrated school-book, and was the first attempt at what now passes under the name of “object lessons.” It is not only an unbelievable extensive book in Latin - we can also learn what the English was like in 1657 and what most everything looked like from household items to animals and tools.


The Fire gloweth, burneth and consumeth to ashes.
Ignis ardet, urit, cremat.

A spark of it struck out of a Flint (or Firestone), 2. by means of a Steel, 1. and taken by Tynder in a Tynder-box, 3. lighteth a Match, 4. and after that a Candle, 5. 9 or stick, 6. and causeth a flame, 7. or blaze, 8.which catcheth hold of the Houses.
Scintilla ejus elisa e Silice, (Pyrite) 2. Ope Chalybis, 1. et excepta a Fomite in Suscitabulo, 3.accendit Sulphuratum, 4. et inde Candelam, 5. vel Lignum, 6.et excitat Flammam, 7. vel Incendium, 8. quod corripit Ædificia.

Smoak, 9. ascendeth therefrom, which, sticking to the Chimney, 10. turneth into Soot.
Fumus, 9. ascendit inde, qui, adhærans Camino, 10. abit in Fuliginem.


"Art in Needlework, A Book about Embroidery", from 1900 by Lewis F. Day and Mary Buckle is another find for all who are interested in textiles.

If you understand German I think you should take a look at "Woher die Kindlein kommen" (Where children comes from" - Sex instruction for children) by Dr. Hans Hoppeler.
I haven't read any of Ruth Sawyer's early books so I couldn't resist "Seven Miles to Arden" from 1915.

"Two Centuries of Costume in America, Vol. 1 (1620-1820)" by Alice Morse Earle from 1903 is a book I have to return to when I have plenty of time. It has many illustrations and the text seem to cover every possible detail.

Afternoon tea

Afternoon Tea should be provided, fresh supplies, with thin bread-and-butter, fancy pastries, cakes, etc., being brought in as other guests arrive.
00000000 Mrs. Beeton The Book of Household Management
Nice little tea-cakes to be baked in muffin-rings are made of one cup of sugar, two eggs, one and a half cups of milk, one heaping teaspoonful of baking powder, a piece of butter the size of an egg and flour sufficient to make a stiff batter. In this batter stir a pint bowl of fruit—any fresh are nice—or canned berries with the juice poured off. Serve while warm and they are a dainty addition to the tea-table. Eaten with butter.

0000 From "Whitehouse Cookbook (1887) - The Whole Comprising A Comprehensive Cyclopedia Of Information For The Home" by Mrs. F.L. Gillette

Taking Tea Today

An Elegant Family Taking Tea
Gavin Hamilton (1723-1798)

fredag 13 mars 2009

Afternoon tea

To begin with, never use a tin teapot if an earthen one is obtainable. An even teaspoonful of dry tea is the usual allowance for a person. Scald the teapot with a little boiling water, and pour it off. Put in the tea, and pour on not over a cup of boiling water, letting it stand a minute or two for the leaves to swell. Then fill with the needed amount of water still boiling, this being about a small cupful to a person. Cover closely, and let it stand five minutes. Ten will be required for English breakfast tea, but never boil either, above all in a tin pot. Boiling liberates the tannic acid of the tea, which acts upon the tin, making a compound bitter and metallic in taste, and unfit for human stomachs.

One quart of corn meal; one teaspoon full of salt; one tablespoonful of melted lard; one large cup of boiling water. Melt the lard in the water. Mix the salt with the meal, and pour on the water, stirring it into a dough. When cool, make either into one large oval cake or two
smaller ones, and bake in the oven to a bright brown, which will take about half an hour; or make in small cakes, and bake slowly on a griddle, browning well on each side. Genuine hoe-cake is baked before an open fire on a board.
From "The Easiest Way in Housekeeping and Cooking, Adapted to Domestic Use or Study in Classes" byHelen Campbell

Taking Tea Today

Tea in the Bedsitter
Harold Gilman

torsdag 12 mars 2009

Need some "grumpets" to degrump

I'm too grumpy and tired to do anything from my to-do-list - I've even managed to suppress what I have to do.
Some time ago — quite a long time ago actually — I found a very old recipe for crumpets that were baked in the oven. I'm not sure if that really would qualify them as crumpets, but I thought it was nice as I don't have any crumpet rings — and I prefer things baked in the oven than on a griddle. But I have no idea where I found it so I might have to find something else that will degrump me.

Chionodoxa growing near the heated well is a good degrumper but it is tiresome to spend the day by the kitchen window to see them so I think I have to turn to books and magazines. Both Piecework and Handwoven come the other day — and so did Slightly Foxed — so I can't complain over nothing to read.

Afternoon tea

When Butter is Too Hard to spread easily, turn a heated bowl upside down over the butter dish for a few minutes. This will thoroughly soften the butter without melting it.
Lemon or Orange Peel for Tea Caddy—Thoroughly dry the peel from an orange or a lemon, and place it in the tea caddy. This will greatly improve the flavor of the tea.
To Keep Teakettle from Rusting—A clean oyster shell placed in the teakettle will keep out rust.
To Prevent Musty Teapot—When putting away a silver teapot, or one that is not in everyday use, place a little stick across the top underneath the cover. This will allow fresh air to get in and prevent mustiness.
To Prevent Cakes from Burning—Sprinkle the bottom of the oven with fine, dry salt to prevent cakes, pies, and other pastry from burning on the bottom.
To Remove Cake from Tin—When taking a cake from the oven, place the cake tin on a damp cloth for a moment and the cake will turn out of the tin quite easily.
When Bread is Too Brown—When bread is baked in too hot an oven and the outside crust gets too brown, do not attempt to cut it off, but as soon as the bread gets cold rub it over with a coarse tin grater and remove all the dark-brown crust.
When Cake is Scorched—If a cake is scorched on the top or bottom, grate over it lightly with a nutmeg-grater instead of scraping it with a knife. This leaves a smooth surface for frosting.
To Make Muffins and Gems Lighter—Muffins and gems will be lighter if, after greasing your pans you place them in the oven a few moments and let them get hot before putting in the batter.
To Remove Tea and Coffee Stains from any white goods, soak the spots with glycerine and let them stand for several hours untouched. Afterward wash with soap and water.

From: "Fowler's Household Helps - Over 300 Useful and Valuable Helps About the Home, Carefully Compiled and Arranged in Convenient Form for Frequent Use" (1916) by A. L. Fowler

Taking Tea Today

Tea for Granny
Felix Schlesinger (1833 - 1910)

onsdag 11 mars 2009

Afternoon tea

"Perhaps that is the true gift of a teatime celebration: It fills our cups with joy and warmth and friendship. May the echo of the teacups' message be heard not only at Christmas, not only on special occasions, but anytime friends come together."
000000000000000000000000Emilie Barnes

0000000000000000000000"A Cozy Christmas Tea"