Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Project & End of the Year Clearance!!

As always, when I put away the Christmas decorations, I get the urge to re-nest; fix something, paint, remodel or re-do something. This year, it is finishing the sitting room upstairs.

In the Victorian era, a lady would welcome her guests in her sitting room. She would do her hand sewing, needlework and crafting in there. She would have tea with her guests and play games and gossip in there. It would be her sanctuary from the "men folk" and her husband could enter only by invitation.

It was almost always on the second floor, perhaps near her bedroom. Mine is near the guest room and could be used as a parlor for guests. Although there are only two of us that live in this big house, I find it very relaxing and comforting in this little room. I read in here a lot and have been known to take a winter nap or two on the chase after staring out the window at the frozen backyard gardens.

This began as a large room at the top of the stairs, perhaps a bedroom. I wanted a walk-in closet, just for me, so we took this room and split it in two. One side is this sitting room and the other side (I'll show you that later) is my closet/dressing room. Each room is about 12 x 12 feet.

Here are the before photos of the floor....

On the left in the first photo is the door to my closet. I'll post the after when we get all done in a few days.

Now, this floor is not in terrible shape, but it was hard to clean with the cracks opening up over the years. They were filled with some tar like substance that has dried out and flakes when you run the sweeper over it. Back in the day, they would have used "second grade" materials upstairs.

I'm not sure what type of wood this is, but it is soft and splinters easily. I know this flooring is at least 100 years old as it is nailed down with square headed nails that are hand forged and obviously made by a blacksmith. It was covered by carpet and heavy padding which I removed a year or so ago.

Between projects, I've been trying to clean and organize my sewing and craft rooms. Boy, what a mess! I have so many new ideas for my Victorian Era loving customers that my head is swimming and I'm really anxious to start working on some of these.

I need to get rid of a few of the cottage items in order to add new. You can help me here! Aunt May's Cottage will be having a HUGE clearance sale soon. Watch for the announcement here!

Have a safe and Happy New Year and come back to visit soon.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Look what I did today....

I was reading up on Victorian Fans and their uses and an idea popped into my head. I thought I'd try to make one myself instead of embellishing one I purchased (I do have a few of those, too). What do you think?

Since I thought we'd all (especially me) look kind of silly trying to act coy and using one to flirt with the gentlemen of today, this should be for decoration only. I love the cameo and glass dangle fringe on the handle and the eyelash fringe brings a more current look to this fan.

While I was at the "gluing table", I thought I'd grab the last two little purses I have from my stash and embellish them, too.

This is the back. Boy, is there a lot of handwork on one of these! I don't know why the sequins look a little yellow. Perhaps it's because they are in direct sunlight. There is so much bling on these that you need sunglasses.

I always embellish both sides of my little purses. You never know when it might flip on you!

These will all be in my Web Store this week! Come shopping for yourself or for an unusual gift for someone special.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Victorians Invented Christmas

The earliest observance of Christmas in the New World was in 1607 at the Virginia colony of John Smith – complete with Yule logs, carols, evergreen decorated churches and a sumptuous feast on Christmas day to which the Indians were invited. Throughout the next few decades in the rest of the colonies, however, it was very different. In Puritan New England, Christmas celebrations were viewed as wanton excesses brought on by the suggestions of Satan. It would be well into the nineteenth century before New Englanders could feel comfortable enough to begin observance of Christmas openly.

In stark contrast to their New England neighbors were New York’s Dutch settlers who not only celebrated Christmas but made it a gala finale to an entire month of merrymaking. During December, normal business would grind to a halt except for the confectioners, bakers and toyshops. Dutch homemakers cleaned, roasted fowl and baked for weeks in anticipation of large house parties.

By the mid 1800s, Christmas was being celebrated as a holiday throughout most of America, largely because immigrant settlers brought their favorite holiday customs with them to enjoy in their new homes with their American neighbors. The Dutch brought their beloved gift bearer, St. Nicholas, who visited good children on December 6th; the English, their love of Christmas carols and decorating homes and churches with evergreens, mistletoe and holly; and the Germans brought their Christmas tree.

In the late 1830s, German immigrants settling in Pennsylvania, introduced the custom of bringing a freshly cut evergreen tree indoors to help with the celebration of Christmas. They would decorate the tree with brightly colored paper cornucopias filled with nuts, crystallized fruit, candy, gilded and colored eggshells and wax candles.

During the 1840s, England’s Queen Victoria and her German born husband, Prince Albert, introduced the Christmas tree as the centerpiece of the royal family’s holiday celebration. The scene was immortalized in both the Illustrated London News and Godey’s Lady’s Book in America, capturing the fancy of Victorian women. Very rapidly the “pretty German toy”, as the Christmas tree was frequently called, passed from interesting folk custom to tradition.

Stay tuned for another episode next time.

Excerpts from Mrs. Sharp's Traditions by Sarah Ban Breathnach

I've been very neglectful for the past month in posting for you and I apologize. I've been a bit "under the weather", but feeling much better and will be with you more often. Please check back for two more readings on this subject. You won't be sorry.