travel

A Starter Regency Wardrobe

I previously posted about my test dress from Laughing Moon #126. I’ve now finished that dress, a ballgown with the same pattern and a bodiced petticoat from Laughing Moon #132. I pretty much have a starter Regency wardrobe. Regency is really fun to wear. It’s so easy and comfy in relation to Victorian. I don’t think it suits me as well but it’s a lot more flattering than I thought it might be. It really is like wearing a couple of nightgowns.

IMG_0486My 1st Regency outing was to Dress Like a Georgian Day! a picnic at Fenton House in London. It was pretty exciting to actually wear Regency clothes to a house that had its last major renovations during the Regency.

IMG_0503I felt right on target even thought most of the other people who attended were wearing clothes from earlier in the Georgian period.

IMG_0502.jpgThe London weather that day turned out to be glorious. It was a bit warm but breezy and sunny. Really a perfect day for a picnic in a lovely manicured garden.

IMG_0494I did not have my bodiced petticoat done before my trip to London. I bought a white cotton nightgown to wear as a sort of shift / some sort of undergarment. I made a capote (tutorial info here) by hand during an impromptu craft night with my London friends. I made the chemisette in a class at last year’s Costume College.

For my Regency ballgown I planned to use a vintage sari as my main fabric. It is purple and lavender with black embroidery that looks like wheat. It just seemed so perfect and it was $20 from this eBay seller. Being vintage, it did have a couple of flaws but they were easily worked around. I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do for the gown though so while in London I went to Goldhawk Road to look for some companion fabric. I found some lavender silk that was both the perfect color and the perfect level of sheen to match my sari. While the price was not bad I certainly blew out the economy of the sari with that purchase. I didn’t end up using anywhere near the yardage I bought so I have more than enough to make a Victorian bodice or something with the rest.

When I got home, I first finished my bodiced petticoat. This turned out really long. I ended up cutting seven inches off the hem which obliterated 3 of my five tucks.

IMG_0619The ballgown went together quickly. I meant to make puffy ballgown sleeves but I ended up cutting the wrong view. Since I used the pallu end of the sari there wasn’t enough additional fabric to recut the sleeves. Not really what I was going for but it looked fine enough.

IMG_0672I used what was left of the pallu to fashion some sort of turbanish headdress. I decorated it with gold trim and gold feathers from my stash. The silver bodice trim is also stash and was purchased from Barnett Lawson on a previous London visit. I bought olive colored jewelry from Dames a la Mode trunk sale to complete my ensemble. I wore black Ghillies from Payless (they are on sale right now).

IMG_0704I’m pretty pleased with this dress. I think the apron front needs a little tweaking and the neckline of my bodiced petticoat is still too high. I think I may just make another pettiocoat rather than re-engineer the one I have. It seems less frustrating and I can fix a couple other small annoyances.

IMG_0700I wore both dresses at Costume College. For my blue day dress look I added a wide ribbon with a greek style motif to my capote. I also wore my blue Manchester boots from American Duchess. My roommate Stephanie wore Regency the same days I did so we made a nice pair. We even played German Whist in the lobby in our Regency gear. Sadly I don’t have a photo of that but it was super fun!

 

 

A Baking Adventure with Nana’s Almond Cookies

I don’t cook. Most Decembers, however, I will attempt to bake something. Usually it is either sugar cookies cut out with cookie cutters or oatmeal raisin cookies. Both recipes are ones that come from my inlaws, although I have slightly doctored the oatmeal raisin recipe by adding more raisins and subbing the “sweet milk” (my southern husband told me that is just regular milk versus buttermilk) for actual sweetened condensed milk. The past few years I have gone to a big annual cookie party. I wasn’t sure what to make this year. I decided to trot out the recipe that is synonymous with my Nana, the Almond Cookie (From the Chinese).

My Nana was a pretty regular baker. She usually had a tin of something at her condo and more often not it was these delicious almond cookies. They are reminiscent of almond cookies that you sometimes get in American Chinese restaurants. You know the ones — in the waxed paper baggies. I have made these cookies before but while they tasted correct, the texture was always wrong. Every time I made them, they were too chewy. Attempts made by my mom and aunt were the same. The flavor was spot on but it still wasn’t Nana’s cookie.

The recipe very specifically calls for 2 cups “soft shortening” which the recipe states is 2 sticks butter and 2 sticks margarine. Margarine is against my religion so I decided to try swapping the margarine for actual shortening – Crisco in bars. Behold! I think the code is cracked! Of course, I can’t be completely sure. My Nana died several year before I even considered trying to make these cookies so I can’t ask her nor can I pull just one more out of the cookie tin. But I think I got it as I remember which I guess is just fine nowadays.

It’s not totally random that I decided to make this cookie this year. I have just returned from a trip to mainland China. My Nana visited China in, I think, the early 80s. I don’t exactly remember when honestly but I was a fairly young kid. Her travels to exotic places fascinated me and really had an impact on me and my future love of travel. Nana was not exactly what you might think of when imaging an adventurous older traveller. She wasn’t particularly outdoorsy or a crazy glamorous Auntie Mame type. She was a long time widow who was curious to see what she had read about and had the means and the ambition to make it happen. She took to tours to China and India and other places, although the very exotic China and India stick the most in my mind. I assume that the relentlessly modern and industrial China that I just saw has little in common with the China that Nana experienced. I really wonder how she managed or what she would think about my travels now. I was not as close to Nana as I was with my other grandparents but the older I get the more I realize what an impact Nana and her travels made on me — and the more I look like her too! I don’t have any photos at the ready sadly but sometime I’ll post some for comparison. Here’s one of my favorite photos I took on this China trip instead.

View this post on Instagram

#china #jingdezhen #ceramics #gawker

A post shared by Gretchen (@parttimeliontamer) on

I posted a baking photo on social media and someone asked me for this recipe. I figured since I was typing it out anyway I’d share the recipe and a little about Nana with all of you! Happy baking, Happy travels and very soon Happy Holidays!

 

Nana’s Almond Cookies (From The Chinese)

4 cups sifted flour

1 t. baking powder

2 cups butter

2 cups Crisco

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 1/2 t. almond extract

1 t. vanilla

1 egg yolk, slightly beaten

1/2 cup blanched almond slivers

Sift flour and baking powder into large bowl. Add next 5 ingredients. Knead mixture until thoroughly combined. Form dough into 2 inch pieces. Place balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten the balls. Combine egg yolk and 1 t. of water. Brush top of cookies with egg yolk mixture. Press a few almond slivers in center of each cookie. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

My latest interview – DJ Yoon Nam of Jet Lag 88.5

I just interviewed DJ Yoon Nam for ATL Retro. Yoon produces the amazingly curated Jet Lag, a radio program of predominantly 60s and 70s prog, psych, trippy sounds — and almost all on vinyl. It’s a really cool show from 8 to 10pm Sunday nights on WRAS 88.5 FM Atlanta (and folks not local — you can listen via Tunein! How to notes in the article.)

http://atlretro.com/2014/11/12/koolkatyoonnam/

DJ Yoon Nam of Jet Lag on the decks.

Travelogue de Mode: Bath Fashion Museum

About this time last year, I visited the Bath Fashion Museum in Bath, England. It’s a great small museum with a rotating collection. The big draw when I was there was 50 Fabulous Frocks, a showcase of fifty dress to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the museum.

I wrote a little piece about it for Steampunk Chronicle.

I also made a little video of my photos.

By the way, Steampunk Chronicle is now in the voting stage for the 2014 Reader’s Choice Awards. If you are interested take a look and vote. You will need to register with the site to do so! I was nominated as Best Dressed Female in 2012 and 2013.