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Creating a Jane Austen Themed Christmas with Terri Heinz, Part 2

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Last month, the lovely and talented Terri Heinz, of Artful Affirmations gave us a glimpse into creating her Jane Austen themed Christmas tree ornaments. This month, she returns with ideas and inspirations for even more Austen ornaments as well as her fantastic ideas for wrapping your Jane inspired gifts!

Terri demonstrates how to create your own Austen inspired Christmas.
Terri demonstrates how to create your own Austen inspired Christmas.

This month, we’ll look at an adorable teacup ornament made from a photograph of one on display at Chawton cottage. Here, Terri tells how she created it.

When I was visiting Jane Austen’s home in Chawton, England, I was lucky enough to get a picture of one of the tea cups from their family’s dining room.

I used the image to create this cup ornament.

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I created this page to cut out, the dark edges helps to see where to cut. Click on the picture to be taken to a large format version which you can save and print as a photograph.

 

 I used some Stickles to glitter it up. It is lovely and glittery! (more…)
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Christmas with Father Christmas

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Vintage-Santa-with-Sleigh-Image-GraphicsFairy - CopyThe modern idea of Santa Claus in his red suit, delivering gifts via reindeer pulled sleigh was crafted by Clement C. Moore in his 1823 poem, A Visit from Saint Nicholas. This Santa was based on the Dutch Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) and does not, until the mid 1800’s cross paths (and merge) with the “olde” English, Father Christmas.

Father Christmas, in fact is the embodiment of the festive holiday season, with no specific religious attachment, though perhaps some slight druid leanings. He does, in fact quite resemble Charles Dickens’ Spirit of Christmas Present, also the embodiment of all the good of the season, albeit with a Victorian slant. This spirit, one of four to visit Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, is presented to the reader in Stave 3. The Ghost here begins the night quite young and robust and ages throughout the day– after all, over eighteen hundred of his brothers have walked before him, and this spirit’s life lasts but one day:

“The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green, that it looked a perfect grove; from every part of which, bright gleaming berries glistened. The crisp leaves of holly, mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the light, as if so many little mirrors had been scattered there; and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the chimney, as that dull petrifaction of a (more…)

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The 17th Century Origins of the Candy Cane

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Candy-Cane-ClassicFor some people, Christmas is all about the foods, for others, a single piece of candy can or the scent of pine can bring them back to their childhood holidays. It is no stretch to suggest that the Candy Cane is one of the most Christmasized of all candies– probably because it was created for the season and is fraught with meaning for those who choose to look for it.

According to legend, they have a German history, but given the German origins of the British monarchy during Jane Austen’s life, it’s not a stretch to think that the treat might have been brought over to England, along with the Christmas tree and other, older traditions, like the Yule Log. Did Jane enjoy stick candy or candy canes? We may never know.

 

“According to folklore, in 1670, in Cologne, Germany, the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral, wishing to remedy the noise caused by children in his church during the Living Crèche tradition of Christmas Eve, asked a local candy maker for some sweet sticks for them. In order to justify the practice of giving candy to children during worship services, he asked the candy maker to add a crook to the top of each stick, which would help children remember the shepherds who paid visit to infant Jesus. In addition, he used the white colour of the converted sticks to teach children about the Christian belief in the sinless life of Jesus. (more…)

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Make Jane Austen Christmas Decorations with Terri Heinz

Terri demonstrates how to create your own Austen inspired Christmas.

I recently discovered Terri Heinz’s lovely blog, Artful Affirmations. Here she presents and discusses her lovely collection of china and teacups, all gorgeously photographed. Terri is a talented artisan as well as photographer, and the chronicle of her journey towards creating a stunning Jane Austen themed Christmas tree was as visually delightful as it was creatively inspiring. She has graciously agreed to share her story here, along with her photographs and crafting hints for creating your own Austen inspired trimmings. I will allow her to continue in her own words.

treewithterri (1)For many years I have enjoyed the writings of the incredible Jane Austen. Several years ago I was lucky enough to travel around England and visit some of the places of her life. I was delighted and inspired by the displays at the Jane Austen Center and the Chawton Cottage house, and profoundly moved standing next to her writing desk and her resting place in Winchester Cathedral. Her writings speak to me of humanity. Her novels so aptly named! Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion! Her books are always nearby. Continue reading Make Jane Austen Christmas Decorations with Terri Heinz

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Parlour Games

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Parlour games were a common way of passing an evening with friends and relatives. They might be mentally stimulating, physically assertive or even somewhat messy (like snapdragon or bullet pudding!) The Austen family is known to have enjoyed many types of mental games, which required memorization, or rhymes on the fly.

Book such as Winter evening pastimes; or, The merry-maker’s companion, by Rachel Revel (1825) offered stimulating and sometimes even daring diversions from the staid entertainments of reading, writing, music and card playing,  featured at the Netherfield Park house party.

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An engraving by Bosio, attributed to Le Bon Genre, 1816

This illustration would seem to depict “The Bridge of Sighs” or possibly “The Beast of Burden”, as described in Winter evening pastimes; or, The merry-maker’s companion. Continue reading Parlour Games

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A Jane Austen Christmas by Maria Grace- A Review

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jacAward winning regency author Maria Grace has pulled out the stops this season, delivering A Jane Austen Christmas in time for holiday gift giving (and receiving!) Eager to beef up my own knowledge of Regency holiday traditions, I ordered this little volume the first week of December, based on the preview given on Amazon.com. Imagine my surprise, then, at finding our own site listed as a resource (accessed according to the time stamp, only weeks before) in the very extensive bibliography given. It is clear that this was a “full steam ahead” project from the Austen oriented “White Soup Press”. Continue reading A Jane Austen Christmas by Maria Grace- A Review

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Create a Jane Austen Honeycomb Ornament

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I recently discovered Amanda Lee’s amazing blog, House Revivals, and was immediately drawn to how she uses recycled (upcycled) books and pages in her projects. The following ornament can be made from any paper or pages, but think how special it would be when made with pages from Austen’s own works!

honeycomb ornament instructionsTo create this bit of Christmas joy, you’ll need 24 pages or pieces of paper, scissors, craft glue, glitter and trims.

Begin by folding each sheet in half. Decide what shape you want your final ornament to be (round, oval, tear drop, etc.) and draw *half* of the design on the folded paper, with the fold becoming the center of the opened template. You can fold and cut several pieces at a time to save effort.

Continue reading Create a Jane Austen Honeycomb Ornament

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Visions of Sugar Plums

“Hero’s recruiting at Kelsey’s; – or – Guard-Day at St. James’s” by James Gillray (1797). Notice his cone of sugarplums.

1907 Cover of A Visit from Saint Nicholas.With Clement C. Moore’s 1823 poem, A Visit from Saint Nicholas, we all now associate “Sugar Plums” with Christmas. In this early American depiction of Christmas Eve, we find the trappings of modern Christmas, from stockings to Jolly old Saint Nick, himself, round, red and fur trimmed, slipping up the chimney after leaving piles of presents for the children, “asleep in their beds, while visions of Sugar Plums dance in their heads.”

So what did a Regency Sugar Plum look like? The 1914  OED describes it thus,  “Sugar-plum – A small round or oval sweetmeat, made of boiled sugar and variously flavoured and coloured; a comfit”.

“Plum” in the name of this confection does not mean plum in the sense of the fruit of the same name. At one time, “plum” was used to denote any dried fruit.  Modern “Sugar plums” may be made from any combination of dried plums (aka prunes), dried figs, dried apricots, dried dates, and dried cherries, but traditional sugar plums contain none of these.

The word came in general usage in 1600s, when adding layers of sweet which give sugar plums and comfits their hard shell was done through a slow and labour intensive process called panning. Until the mechanization of the process, it often took several days, thus the sugar plum was largely a luxury product. In fact in the 18th century the word plum became a British slang for a big pile of money or a bribe.

 

A confectioner creating 'sugar plums' .
A confectioner creating ‘sugar plums’ .

Georgian Sugar Plums, then, looked much more like today’s Jordan Almonds, than anything else. Theodore Garrett, author of The Encyclopaedia of Practical Cookery (1890) notes that “These are described under CARAWAY COMFITS, a more elaborate variety of them being known as DRAGÉES OR FRENCH SUGAR PLUMS…small strips of cinnamon [can also be] made to start off French Sugar Plums.

“Hero’s recruiting at Kelsey’s; – or – Guard-Day at St. James’s” by James Gillray (1797). Notice his cone of sugarplums.
“Hero’s recruiting at Kelsey’s; – or – Guard-Day at St. James’s” by James Gillray (1797). Notice the cone of sugarplums.

William Alexis Jarrin, author of The Italian Confectioner; Or, Complete Economy of Desserts, According to the Most Modern and Approved Practice, 1829, details the process, thus:

Continue reading Visions of Sugar Plums