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The Regency Spa: Create Your Own Bath Salts

The Regency Spa: Create Your Own Bath Salts

Throughout history, physicians have touted the health claims of various “Waters” and have advised their patients to immerse or ingest from numerous wells around the globe. While no one has yet discovered the proverbial “Fount of Youth”, it is true that the ancient healers were on to something. Cities, such as Bath and Tunbridge Wells often sprang up around “curative” springs, each boasting it’s own brand of health and happiness.

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A painting of the well building in 1795

One such spring was discovered in Epsom and was so restorative that enterprising businessmen began selling the mineral deposits found there for use at home. The result? Epsom salts. Though not a salt in the sense of table salt, they are called so for their salt like appearance and are actually composed of Magnesium sulfate (or magnesium sulphate) an inorganic salt (chemical compound) containing magnesium, sulfur and oxygen, with the formula MgSO4. The salt was produced from the springs that arise where the porous chalk of the North Downs meets non-porous London clay. Epsom salt has been traditionally used as a component of bath salts. Epsom salt can also be used as a beauty product. Athletes use it to soothe sore muscles, while gardeners use it to improve crops. It has a variety of other uses. Epsom salt is also effective in the removal of splinters.

It is on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, the most important medications needed in a basic health system.

Home made bath salts can be a lovely gift. Image by Misty Kelly, with permission from Photobucket.
Home made bath salts can be a lovely gift. Image by Misty Kelly, with permission from Photobucket.

To make your own bath salts and enjoy a relaxing soak (preferably with a good novel) you will need equal parts coarse grained salt and Epsom salts (found for pennies at your pharmacy.)

If using 1 cup of each, you might also want to add 1 tsp of your favorite essential oil or finely ground herbs like lavender or rose petals.

Mix thoroughly (a few drops of food coloring make it pretty when packaged) and store in an air tight container.

Use 1/4 cup in a warm or hot bath to imitate a soak in the hot springs. The benefits, from shinier hair to relaxed muscles, are to numerous to list.

 

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Create A Regency Style Turban

Turbans were popular forms of head decoration during Austen’s era, adding both drama and height to the wearer.

The Bingley sisters epitomized London style and elegance in 1995's Pride and Prejudice by A&E/BBC.
The Bingley sisters epitomized London style and elegance in 1995’s Pride and Prejudice by A&E/BBC.

Fashion magazines of the time displayed an amazing variety of style and form, all under the heading “turban”.

 La Belle Assemblee, April 1818
La Belle Assemblee, April 1818

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Pike with Pudding in the Belly

In his diary (1752-1802) Parson Woodforde recounts, with a gastronome’s delight, the details of many a meal. These peeks into the past give a wonderful feeling of what life must have been like for the Austen family, social as well as historical contemporaries of the parson.

The following entry from June 4, 1777, describes one such meal:

pike

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In his diaries, Woodforde often mentions fishing and Pike were often caught. This large, carnivorous fish is considered particularly good sport among anglers and is still sought after, today. Elizabeth Moxon’s 1764 cookbook, English Housewifry: Exemplified in Above Four Hundred and Fifty Receipts Giving Directions in Most Parts of Cookery … with an Appendix Containing Upwards of Sixty Receipts, offers the following recipe for this dish:

How to roast a Pike with a Pudding in the Belly
Take a large pike, scale and clean it, draw it at the gills. To make a pudding for the Pike, take a large handful of breadcrumbs, as much beef -suet shred fine, two eggs, a little pepper and salt, a little grated nutmeg, a little parsley, sweet marjoram and lemon peel shred fine; so mix it altogether, put it into the belly of your pike, skewer it all around, place it in an earthen dish with a lump of butter over it, a little salt and flour, so set it in the oven. An hour will roast it.

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Create a Jane Austen’s Room Box: Dollhouse Style

One of our readers recently shared a project that he has been working on. Author and art historian, Alexander Chefalas also happens to be a 1/12 scale miniature enthusiast. On his blog, MyGreekMiniatures.com, he shares numerous Regency themed projects, and has offered to here detail, in English, the step by step process he undertakes in creating his windows into Jane Austen’s world.

The completed Austen inspired room box.
The completed Austen inspired room box.

As a true & loyal fan of Miss Austen I decided to make a roombox inspired by her last and beloved home at Chawton cottage.

A view of Jane Austen's pianoforte at Chawton Cottage.
A view of Jane Austen’s pianoforte at Chawton Cottage.
Jane Austen's writing desk inspired this room box.
Jane Austen’s writing desk inspired this room box.

I found a small wall-case display in my store room and I decided to create a small roombox in order to put it next to her novels in my bookcase. Continue reading Create a Jane Austen’s Room Box: Dollhouse Style

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A Jane Austen Daydream: A Review

A Jane Austen Daydream: A Review

“It is only a novel… or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.”
-Northanger Abbey

A sneak preview of the cover for A Jane Austen Daydream

When Scott Southard set out to write a novel about Jane Austen, he purposefully avoided reading any of the recent spate of biographical fiction. This was to be an un-biography—the life he wished Jane might have led—a Jane Austen daydream. His goal, as stated in the dedication, was to make his wife laugh.

As a male writer, writing fiction featuring perhaps the most famous female writer of all time, Southard was in a class, if not by himself, then with very few to compete with. Certainly, he brings a new spin to the Austen oeuvre. His Jane is unlike any I’ve ever read—“a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice” if you will. A sharply tongued Marianne to Cassandra’s Elinor. Indeed, the world he has created for Jane, beginning with her life in Steventon, is full of characters that would later appear in one form or another in her works. Her dear friend Harriet, for instance, is a duplicate of Harriet Smith, in Emma.

Some may find this to lack creativity, they might assume that the author is indicating that Jane was unable to create realistic characters on her own, for the Jane in this novel is a writer, and does, over the course of the book, complete several of her now famous works. Others might look on it with the delight of discovering an old friend in an unexpected place. I prefer to think of it as the latter. After all, this is not a biography (as those familiar with the life of Jane Austen will quickly note) and it was written to make his wife laugh. How better to do that, you might ask, than to create a Lady Catherine De Bourgh imbued with the spirit of Mrs. Jennings? This is only one of the “sightings” which fill the book, adding to a diverse cast of characters, both real and imagined.

While shielding himself from recent publications, Southard saturated himself, instead, in Jane Austen’s own writings, reading through her works several times throughout the development of this novel. This familiarity with the entire Austen canon shines through, with much of the dialogue taken directly from her novels and letters (but with a twist). Lines are spoken “out of context”, combined with conversations from other works, and placed back into the mouths of Austen’s own friends and family.

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Netting Instructions from Beeton’s Book of Needlework

“It is amazing to me,” said Bingley, “how young ladies can have patience to be so very accomplished as they all are….They all paint tables, cover skreens, and net purses. I scarcely know any one who cannot do all this, and I am sure I never heard a young lady spoken of for the first time, without being informed that she was very accomplished.”
-Pride and Prejudice

In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bingley notes “netting”as one of the common accomplishments of young ladies. It is, as Isabella Beeton, Victorian Household Maven, explains, “one of the prettiest and one of the easiest accomplishments of a lady. The materials are simple, while the effects produced by good netting are most elegant and of great durability. One great advantage of netting is that each stitch is finished and independent of the next, so that if an accident happens to one stitch it does not, as in crochet or knitting, spoil the whole work.” The following instructions are from Beeton’s Book of Needlwork, published in 1870.

Isabella Beeton's books and articles are invaluable in researching life and practices of the mid 19th century.
Isabella Beeton’s books and articles are invaluable in researching life and practices of the mid 19th century.

Continue reading Netting Instructions from Beeton’s Book of Needlework

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The Game of Graces

When I had reached my eighteenth Year, I was recalled by my Parents to my paternal roof in Wales. Our mansion was situated in one of the most romantic parts of the Vale of Uske. Tho’ my Charms are now considerably softened and somewhat impaired by the Misfortunes I have undergone, I was once beautiful. But lovely as I was, the Graces of my Person were the least of my Perfections. Of every accomplishment accustomary to my sex, I was Mistress. When in the Convent, my progress had always exceeded my instructions, my Acquirements had been wonderfull for my age, and I had shortly surpassed my Masters.
Love and Freindship
Jane Austen

The Game of Graces was a popular activity for young girls during the early 1800s. The game was invented in France during the first quarter of the 19th century and called there le jeu des Graces. The Game of Graces was considered a proper game benefiting young ladies and, supposedly, tailored to make them more graceful. Graces was hardly ever played by boys, and never played by two boys at the same time, either two girls, or a boy and a girl.

In 1838, Lydia Marie Child (American abolitionist, women’s rights activist and author of such works as Hobomok and A Boy’s Thanksgiving, which begins, “Over the River and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go…”) published The Girl’s Own Book, a volume full of entertainments for girls of all ages.  In it, she describes the game of Graces, thus:

This is a new game, common in Germany, but introduced to this country from France. It derives its name from the graceful attitudes which it occasions. Two sticks are held in the hands, across each other, like open scissors: the object is to throw and catch a small hoop upon these sticks. The hoop to be bound with silk, or ribbon, according to fancy.

The game is played by two persons. The sticks are held straight, about four inches apart, when trying to catch the hoop; and when the hoop is thrown, they are crossed like a pair of scissors. In this country it is called The Graces or The Flying Circle.
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Conserve of Roses, boiled

Most roses are edible. Roses are not the only flowers that can be used to add a delicious and exotic taste to all types of dishes. The flavor of roses, however, is distinct and immediately recognizable, and it looks as wonderful as it tastes.

If you are looking to make your Valentine bouquet last just a bit longer, try this recipe, from Hannah Glasse’s 1747 cookbook, The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy. Below it, you’ll find an updated adaptation.  Of course, if you prefer to try the jam without any effort, several companies do sell their own, ready made versions, as well.

Highly scented roses work best for this project.

Conserve of Roses, boiled
In order to conserve roses, take red roses, take off all the whites at the bottom, or elsewhere, take three times the weight of them in sugar, put to a pint of roses a pint of water, skim it well, shred your roses a little before you put them into water, cover them, and boil the leaves tender in the water, and when they are tender put in your sugar; keep them stirring, lest they burn when they are tender, and the syrup be consumed. Put them up, and so keep them for your use.
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