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.
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
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.
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
Award 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
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!
To 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.
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.
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.
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: