Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pride & Prejudice Night: Activities

I realised that I never finished my series of posts on my Pride & Prejudice night 2 weeks ago. I thought you might like to hear what we actually did on the night.

This was the program:
On the visitors' arrival we had punch and admired each others' costumes. The girls had all gone to so much trouble with their dresses, even those who chose not to come in Regency dress had worn pretty dresses. They were also kind enough to bring me flowers, chocolates and some contributions to the food, which was nice. I had planned to have hot apple cider, but it turned out to be a hot day and night so I sent my long-suffering husband out in the afternoon to buy drinks for punch.

Here's a photo of me and my friends. Of course in real life they all have beautiful faces but I thought I should protect their privacy! You can see that some of them are wearing lovely Regency-style dresses, some of them bridesmaids dresses.

Then the fun began. I divided the girls into 2 teams – the Bennets and the Bingleys
and we did this quiz on Jane Austen, I read out the questions and they discussed the answers in their teams. Since I had recently read a book about Jane Austen I did well on this test but the Bennets and Bingleys had more troubld on the night!

One of the main things we did on the night was to watch segments from the 1995 BBC production of P&P, so at this point we watched the opening, where the Bennets are excited to hear that Mr Bingley has moved to Netherfield, and we learn a little about class in England at the time.

Then we played a game I called "Know Your Place" I printed out names titles and ranks of Regency society (using this as a guide) and the teams had to put them in order of rank from the King to the Poor. This was pretty tricky but both teams did well.

Then we watched some more of the video - the ball scene, the part where Jane catches cold at Netherfield and she and Elizabeth stay there for a few days.

While there, Elizabeth has an interesting conversation with Mr Darcy and Miss Bingley about what constitutes an "accomplished lady" and this led to our next quiz "Are you Accomplished?" where ladies had to select from a list of possible accomplishments and add up their scores, which would show whether they were good enough to marry someone like Mr Darcy, or instead would have to live a spinster. I took the questions from Miss Bingley's list and also some of the other accomplishments mentioned in P&P.

The quiz began ...

Have you ever
Painted a table?
Covered a screen?
Netted a purse?

Trimmed a bonnet?
(at least I could tick that I have trimmed a bonnet now!)

Then we watched Mr Darcy have a bath, Mr Collins arrive, and Elizabeth and Darcy dance at the Netherfield Ball.

Then came one of the highlights of the night, where we actually learned the dance that appeared in the movie (well actually, we simplified it for the sake of not spending the whole night learning it) and danced it with our resident violinist playing the tune used in the movie! So much fun. The girls loved this and this is what they were all talking about at church the next morning!

Then we watched in agony as Mr Collins proposes to Elizabeth. Thank goodness I never received a proposal like that!

I read some production trivia from the making of the BBC version we were watching.

We watched the section where Mr Darcy arrives at Rosings, and then when Darcy proposes to Elizabeth.

Then it was time for Supper which was enjoyed by all.

It was fun then to watch other Mr Darcy proposals - Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson, and then Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley.

We returned to the BBC production to see Elizabeth visit Pemberley, and then I had some Regency paper dolls for them to take home and cut out. (these are lovely if you want some yourself)

The rest of the plan for the night was to see Bingley & Jane become engaged, and then to play a game called " Ready for Mr Bingley" where the ladies have to sloth about doing not much but when someone sees Mr Bingley coming they quickly have to find their needlework, or moral reading, compose themselves and stand with dignity when the servant announces their visitor. Unfortunately it was a bit late by now, and one of my Regency ladies had to go home to feed her baby, so that was the end of the night. Those who had not watched the video before had to take our word for it that Darcy and Elizabeth did finally become engaged!

So that was my Pride & Prejudice night. It was lots of fun! It was funny when we got to church the next day, to hear my friends' husbands (who weren't at the party) telling me what a good party it was! They were all a bit tired, their wives had kept them up all night chattering about the party.

Maybe I'll do Emma next. LOL

Sunday Evening

After a hot day, some flowers picked in the cool of the evening

... the smell of freshly-mown grass

...and the sound of the mower (a bit scarce lately, we have been letting the freesias grow in the lawn)

We have had our main dinner at lunchtime, as usual on a Sunday, and tonight the girls will have toast, and we will feast on leftovers of Butter Chicken and Cherry Cinnamon Cobbler from last night, for a treat.

For afternoon tea I made ginger cupcakes with vanilla icing, served very daintily using some thrifted goodies, but I didn't photograph them, because some people round here are suspicious that I only do things for the blog. So you will just have to imagine them! They were delicious.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Vintage goodies

These are my purchases from our trip to the country last weekend, and some time spend in my favourite antique shop ever!

I dug my way through about 100 tray cloths, all priced up to $15.00 (I would rather have bought an embroidered tablecloth, but they started at $45.00!). I was looking for something other than just flowers, and something that made me happy. I looked and looked. This one too expensive, this one too frilly, this one perfect but holey. Then I found it. The cheapest one in the pile, that I missed as I was going through, and somehow I knew it was THE ONE. I don't even know why it was THE ONE, but I was sure. So I bought it.

And a tea knife. I didn't know that tea knives existed, but apparently they do. Steve helpfully pointed out to me that you don't normally cut tea so why would you need a tea knife? But it seems to me the perfect size for daintily spreading jam onto a scone, so that's what I bought it for. I baked scones when we got home, and yep, it does the job.

Lastly I bought a comb labelled in the box French 1920s but I'm thinking that must be the design, not the actual comb, it doesn't seem that old. But it combs well. The first time I tried it I knew I was alive. My scalp tingled through the next 2 towns. Now I don't even notice it but my hair likes it.

So for just $17.50 I came out with a little package of pretty usefulness.

Just what I hoped for!

Find more vintage goodies here.

Wild About J and a Project Finished

An overdue birthday card for a very cute nephew.

And I don't think I mentioned the other day that I finally finished this quilt ... at last! Poor Laura has been waiting so patiently. At least there are a few more cool days and nights left this year!

Strangely enough I finished both quilts for my girls on days when they were home sick. I'm not sure if that says something about my too-busy schedule normally, or my sympathy for them when they are sick - probably both. At least Laura's was finished within the year, not like Emily's which began as a cot quilt and took 10 years!

You will be glad to hear that the poor sick girl struggling to smile here is back at school now, happy and healthy.

Baroque Motifs Cards

I have managed to do some stamping again after a few weeks of doing none. Sitting down is about all I am good for at the moment, so stamping is perfect!

I made these cards from the Stampin' Up Baroque Motifs set, very much inspired by these.

Easy and fun.

I can't believe it is 3 months today until Christmas!

Costumiers au monde

Can you believe that I needed to come up with ANOTHER costume for school? This term the girls have had to dress as New Zealanders (for Olympics Day), Multicultural (we went Irish and Australian) for Multicultural Day, Emily had to have a uniform for her Opera House performance for which I had to buy pants, and now today she had two class parties and could go as an Ancient Egyptian (she reminded me on Tuesday) OR as we found out yesterday, she could go as a Maths Geek. I hope you can tell which one we chose. All I can say is that for living in a country where we don't do Halloween I sure have my fill of providing costumes.

Emily helped with the drafting and sewing (using the very technical lie-on-the-floor-while-Mummy-traces-you method) and did the painting on the collar (two donut shapes of calico sewn together and painted with acrylic paint.) We designed the headpiece together out of gold card and at the last minute this morning added the bead trim (in the absence of straight black hair with a fringe).

I was pleased that we got it done in one afternoon, since I am still feeling woozy at times with my cold. Emily got to learn some more sewing skills and it all has the child-made touch. I just hope it will hold together at school! (and yes I know that the Ancient Egyptians didn't wear watches. or sneakers for that matter!)

So ... how about it? Shall we go into business?
LOL .... maybe making hospital gowns!

Edited to add: Emily has just come home from school and informed me that she was the only one in the class who dressed up......... sigh.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Quiet Day

Laura and I are taking a sick day today, she with an ongoing tummy virus and I with a cold. It is raining outside and the perfect weather for snuggling and recuperating. If I have the energy I might do a little stamping or something later, otherwise I will sit and read and play games with Laura. My dear husband is working at home so I could even nap if I had to without the fear of sleeping through school pick-up time!

Gundagai festival

Just a few more photos from Gundagai ...

Taken at one of the lookouts overlooking the town

It was incredibly windy on this hill, I could barely open the car door against the wind. Emily had a bit of fun with the wind ....

The new car behaved perfectly the whole time away :-)

oh and this is what we went to see ... lots of live Irish music ... didn't take many photos, not wanting to use flash while people were performing, so could really only get blurry shots anyway ... these are two of the musicians I am fortunate to play with at Irish sessions - beautiful harp and hammered dulcimer music.

We didn't get to see quite as much music as we hoped because Laura was sick, we had to take turns staying in the motel room with her :-( Fortunately the motel room was spacious and clean. In fact the girls (when Laura was feeling well) did some Irish dancing practice in the motel room for the fun of it because there was more empty space there than at home - poor deprived girls!
But we are still glad we went, it was beautiful in the country, and there is a limit anyway to the number of concerts and workshops one can cope with in one weekend! We did see some incredible performances from Irish and Australian musicians, which was a privilege.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Night Visitor

Tonight we had a visitor on our doorstep.

We often hear frogs here but this is the first one we have seen.

We don't know why he was at the doorstep, under the verandah.

Maybe he wanted to get out of the rain?

Bridges of Gundagai

The town of Gundagai is built on a hill by a flood plain. Two very old bridges cross the floodplain:

This railway bridge was built in 1901.

Amazing trees with trunks about 2 metres around.

This bridge was built in 1866 and formed part of the Sydney-Melbourne highway until 1977:

Fortunately it is not in use anymore, except for pedestrians (maybe just tourists?)

Before the building of these bridges the old town of Gundagai was built on the floodplain. In 1852 the Murrumbidgee River flooded and 79 lives were lost. The town was rebuilt in a higher location.

Apparently these old bridges are the longest timber viaducts in the southern hemisphere. I love that they have not been pulled down, but left there for us to appreciate.

The cows don't seem to mind it, either.

To see some beautiful photos of these bridges click here - we took our photos around midday but these are beautiful morning/evening photos.

A Country Weekend

On Thursday we drove to Gundagai for The Turning Wave Festival, a festival of Irish and Australian music. We haven't driven in the country for ages, and we loved it.

As you can see, the new car was appreciated by all - especially the cupholders. And, no, we didn't buy a purple car. But at least one of the girls' wishes were granted. But maybe I need to explain to Laura that they're cupholders, not pupholders.

On the way we stopped at my favourite antique shop, where everything is set out so beautifully in categories. This photo is blurry but you get the idea:

What I loved more than the china was the old sewing notions and all the old linen - rooms of it, divided into types. I decided that all I could afford was an embroidered traycloth, and there were about 100 to choose from, all neatly folded in a stack. There are lots of everyday kitchen items too, which I could have gotten into ... but resisted. In the end I bought a tray cloth which turned out to be the cheapest in the pile but it was the one I loved on the day and a tea knife which I used yesterday with scones and jam after we arrived home, also I bought a nice wooden comb which is apparently from France c1920s but seems pretty new to me. Anyway it works well, so I'm happy! I'll post them on Thursday for Vintage Thingie Thursday.

The further south-west we drove, the more hilly the country became.

Close to Gundagai we saw this flourescent green groundcover, we're not sure what it is.

It took us about 7 hours, including a few decent stops, and we arrived at Gundagai just after 5pm, and looked around. Not much was happening yet for the festival, which started properly on Friday.

Gundagai is nestled among the most beautiful hills, which we could look at for hours. These were the views from our motel room

and this is a park close to the town where we had morning tea and played some tin whistle.

I'll post some more from our weekend later.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tagged - 8 Random Facts about Me

I have been tagged by Linda at Remote Treechanger to tell 8 Random Facts about Me


1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.

3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

4. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

8 Random Facts About Me

1. I am a sucker for anything old. Everything old in our extended family eventually finds its way to our home.

2. I have never been flown in an aeroplane. Never. Growing up we could never afford aeroplane holidays, then we we got married we were saving for a house, then we had kids .... maybe one day!

3. I love 1930s china, especially Meakin

4. I don’t like Chopin. I know it is shocking for a piano teacher to admit that, but it’s true.

5. I find it very hard to walk past a newsagent without walking in and browsing the magazines.

6. When I feel depressed some baking never fails to cheer me up

7. I don’t like gardening, but I love gardens. I think it is the fear of pain and sweat that puts me off.

8. I am the only person I know (apart from my husband LOL) who came home early because their honeymoon was so bad. Well, not the honeymoon itself, but the place we were staying at – eek!

Now I am going to be naughty and not tag 8 more people. Most of the blogs I read have already posted their 8 random facts about themselves in recent weeks, I think. But if you are reading this and haven't posted 8 facts about yourself then feel free to do so and leave a comment and I'll come and visit your blog!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pride & Prejudice: My Costume

When planning my Pride & Prejudice night one of the first things was to work out exactly what I would wear. I would have loved to attempt something from here, but there was not enough time, and who knows how it might have turned out?
Working on a cotton/muslin day dress sort of idea I looked at what I already owned and managed to find a costume in my wardrobe!

A cotton blouse with lace, embroidery and puffed sleeves

+ white cotton skirt

+ a pretty cotton nightie with embroidered yoke

+ a bolero style cardigan (later changed to a shawl because it was a very hot night)

+ a few metres ribbon

= one Pride & Prejudice costume!

I wore the blouse under the nightie (they turned out looking identical in colour), the skirt as a petticoat (since the nightie is very fine) and a ribbon tied under the bust for an empire waist. The shawl was recently given to me by Mum, she didn't want it and it turned out to be perfect for the costume. I had gloves for dancing (from the $2 shop) and a wooden fan (also the $2 shop) and my bonnet I made last week, and some pink ballet-style flat shoes.

So altogether my costume cost me only $12.00, which I was pretty happy about.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pride & Prejudice: Regency Desserts & Delicacies

These are the desserts I made for the Pride & Prejudice Party.

For each dessert I made a label explaining about the food and its history, which were on the table on the night.

Chocolate Cream (pictured above) (really just like chocolate mousse - soooooooo rich and yummy) This is an original Regency recipe:

"Take a pt of cream with a spoonfull scrapt chocolate boyle them well together mix with ye yolks of 2 eggs & thicken & mill it on ye fier then pour it into your chocolate cups"

But I used a regular recipe containing dark chocolate, butter, eggs and cream - pretty similar.

Bakewell Tart
The Bakewell Tart was supposedly invented at The Rutland Arms in Bakewell. It is claimed that Jane Austen stayed there in 1811 and she based Lambton in “Pride and Prejudice” on the town.

It contains ground almonds, jam and lemon - delicious. I even made this in a gluten free version and it still worked! My icing came out a bit wonky though ...

Original recipe from Jane Austen's sister-in-law Martha Lloyd:
"Take three Naple biscuits. Cut them in slices. Dip them in sack. Lay them on the bottom of your dish. Then make a custard of a pint of cream and five eggs and put over them. Them make a whipt syllabub as light as possible to cover the whole. The higher it is piled, the handsomer it looks."

Instead of following that recipe (having no "sack") I made a cake (gluten free - usually I buy a jam roll) and used bought custard, jelly, peaches and cream.

Cheesecakes (top tier)
"Our journey yesterday went off exceedingly well; nothing occurred to alarm or delay us... At Devizes we had comfortable rooms and a good dinner, to which we sat down about five; amongst other things we had asparagus and a lobster, which made me wish for you, and some cheesecakes, on which the children made so delightful a supper as to endear the town of Devizes to them for a long time."
—Jane Austen writing to her sister Cassandra, Queen's Square, Friday (May 17) 1799

These little cakes don't actually contain cheese. They are a pastry tart with cake mixture spooned on top (plus a little raspberry jam). On top of that you make a little cross with 2 twisted pastry strips. These looked very effective and charming, but on the night they tasted a bit dry.

Eccles Cakes (lower tier)
"In 1793 James Birch’s shop on the corner of Vicarage Road in Eccles began selling small, flat, raisin-filled cakes. They sold, quite literally, like hot cakes!
Although traditionally made in the town from where they get their name, Eccles cakes are now famous throughout the world. As early as 1818 they were said to be sold "at all the markets and fairs around and are even exported to America and the West Indies".

Eccles cakes are like fruit mince pies made with puff pastry. I really liked these, and will make them again, maybe even at Christmas. The filling is currants and mixed peel. Yummy and so easy.

Besides all this we had Marzipan Strawberries and real strawberries. Strawberries feature in Jane Austen's Emma, particularly.

And here are my elegant guests surveying the feast and reading the little labels before helping themselves: