October 31, 2010

We are getting ready!

Here I am getting ready for another 18thc. Christmastide in our 1700's home~
We have made all our fresh garlands by ourselves with greens, holly, and tiny apples all from our own yard. We have baked and cooked and decorated our rooms with more greens, candles, and fruit. We are lighting fires and dressing in several period outfits. We have been having a wonderful time taking pictures and putting together this year's Christmas gallery~
OUR 2010 '17TH AND 18THC NEW ENGLAND CHRISTMASTIDE PHOTO GALLERY' WILL BE UP ON OUR WEBSITE ON THANKSGIVING EVENING.

(Our gallery is only up for a short time. We put up new galleries periodically to reflect our "18thc. adventures" and our life in a period house in New England. We hope you will continue to visit our website and to enjoy our various galleries~)






October 30, 2010

Homemade stuffing, bread, and the Mayflower Society~

It smells AMAZING in here! It is Saturday morning, and I have just made my secret recipe stuffing to bake in the oven. It is chock full of apricots, maple sausage, toasted pecans with a touch of our maple syrup, and much more, and was a hit at our DINNER WITH THE PILGRIMS last year. I have made the homemade anadama bread and my homemade cranberry orange relish that we had also. Adam helped, and he is now out cutting fresh holly from our yard  to use to decorate the keeping room so we can take the last of the pictures today for the Christmastide Gallery.  I am popping another of those Perdue roast-in-the-bag chickens into the oven later for dinner with the stuffing and homemade bread, etc.

It is chilly and gloomy today, and actually just perfect. It is one of those days you feel so cozy inside. Adam is lighting a big fire in the main room fireplace where we will be photographing later, and with candles lit, the room has exactly the look we wanted for our pictures---dim and inviting. Our 18thc. garments are out and pressed, and we will even be putting A NEW ENGLAND CHRISTMASTIDE cd on to add to the atmosphere, just for us. I have had the NEW ENGLAND CHRISTMASTIDE 1 and 2 tapes for 20 years (Northstar Music), and they are still my most favorite Christmas music, and the only ones I listen to over and over, along with THE NUTCRACKER.

I love the Nutcracker more than anything and have not been to a performance in several years. Adam said he is going to try to take me to see it live in Portland Maine this year. We would get all dressed up and have a romantic holiday adventure.

Speaking of Portland, we are the featured speakers at the Thanksgiving luncheon of the Mayflower Society in a few weeks. We are their guests for the lunch held at a large downtown hotel, and will then be presenting our DRESSING A COLONIAL LADY program. This program is private and is not open to the public, but we were also engaged to present it in February at the Old Berwick Historical Society in Maine, and this presentation will be open to everyone.

I have attached a photo of the dinner menu we made and gave to each guest at our DINNER WITH THE PILGRIMS last year. I made the meal in the fireplace, and it was a most wonderful evening~

October 29, 2010

This and that~

Ken, in his usual attire when visiting...
Friends Ken and Jeremy raise an elbow in our taproom to the strains of 'A Scot's Rant'~
I hope you will re-read the 'MY HOME' post of a few days ago. I hadn't quite finished it, and have now added a bit. Also, thank you to Catherine and Barb for your lovely comments on that post. Thank you too to all the people who have emailed me, and who read my blog all the time. So many have said it is like a favorite and comforting book that they love to read over and over. I have been told by 'friends' all over that they are transported to my New England in their minds, and that the 'visits' are a cherished ritual! I humbly thank you. My life is not momentous or renowned.  I live an authentic and simple life and writing about it reminds me each day of how grateful I am. I am honored to share a bit of that life with you. (SEE 'A HEARTFELT THANK YOU' POST/JUNE 2010).  I am grateful I had a dad who told me as a kid not to throw money away on rent, to try to buy a house as soon as I could even if it was a dump, and to work hard to fix it up and pay it off.  He told me 'never ever apologize for your home', and to make it the best it could be. I am grateful I had a mother who could stretch a dollar into 5, and who could decorate the socks off of anything with little money and lots of imagination. Because of them, and many other circumstances in my life, I have dedication, commitment, and 'true grit'.

It is very early this Friday morning, and I am again doing a favorite thing sitting here with candles lit and a cup of tea. It is still dark out and the dogs are still sleeping. I have 'A TRIP TO KILLBURN' cd playing very softly. I love the bit of quiet time before the busy day begins. Adam left for school taking some reenactment clothing and an 18thc. cocked hat and gear with him. The students are having a little Halloween party this afternoon and the teachers are dressing up too. This is special ed in a high school, and the kids will be doing a lot of the work for the party. I remember last year when on this day we were at the local grammar school in 18thc clothing with the 4th graders for the whole day. It was 'Colonial Day', and they made cocked hats from black paper, and ink from cranberries and made turkey feather pens and more. We brought many things to show them and were there the whole day. They were fascinated with everything. Our town has a little Halloween parade down the main street, and at the end of the day the whole school lined up in their adorable costumes, and we in our 18thc garb walked with them in the parade.  A happy memory...

As I write this now with candles glowing, I enjoy looking around the house seeing everything by only candlelight in the peaceful quiet.

Today I am making another concord grape pie. The grapes were still available at the store, so I bought several containers. Adam requested his favorite spinach salad for dinner. I think I gave the recipe in an earlier post, but it has shallots, bacon, sliced apple and more in it. The dressing is made with some of our real maple syrup from our own trees. It is the best spinach salad recipe ever, and with some warm wheat rolls and the pie is plenty for dinner. I found the photo at the very top of this post recently. On Christmas eve we have my PILGRIM CLAM PIE for dinner with some of our own homemade RUM SHRUB, (a 'receipt' that is legendary with the guests in our taproom.) This was taken last year as we had a romantic Christmas eve supper in front of the fire. Mmmm, it is so delicious. I will have to dig out the recipe for this year...

I stopped at a farmstand the other day and got more really fresh apples and another gallon of New Hampshire cider. They make apple cider doughnuts from scratch right there and the smell was mouth-watering. I resisted, but bought a half dozen for Adam. They are tiny. When he got home the other day I warmed them up and heated some of the cider with cloves and cinnamon in it as a suprise. We had the steaming redware mugs of cider while we talked about the day.

This weekend we will be in 18thc clothing taking more photos for our 'New England Christmastide Gallery' that will be up on our website in November. We did some decorating with the greens and the 'faux sugared fruit' we made together. We have so much fun because we actually do have tea and treats or dinner, all dressed up while taking the pictures.  We don't have a tripod so Adam went out to the woodshed last Saturday and made a little 'shelf' with 2 rough scraps of wood. He clamped it with a construction clamp to the back of a chair, moved it into position and put the camera on it with the 12 second delay. His gizmo worked perfectly, and we were able to take photographs the two of us together. We have done hours and hours of computer work as well for our very own 'historical Christmas' presentation, and are quite excited about this years' gallery, which we will upload to our website on Thanksgiving night. Everything we have done is a closely guarded secret, and I will NOT even post a 'hint picture' here! We hope our friends will be transported and enjoy looking at what we have done.

We are very excited about our reenactment group's 'Regimental Dinner' at the wonderful and historic Salem Cross Inn coming up very soon. We will of course all be in 18thc attire, and helping to cook our incredible meal in a massive fireplace (see our website HOME page). We will have photos up on the website after the event as well.  Adam is a fantastic artist and he did a pen and ink drawing of a soldier in the complete British uniform that our men wear, down to the tiniest detail. He is giving this to Chris, the commander of our unit (who really IS a Brit!), as a gift at the dinner.

October 28, 2010

Altering my 17thc. jacket, friends, New England 'town suppas', meatballs, and a bicycle built for 2~





As those of you may know from a past post, my 17thc. wool jacket did not quite fit properly when it arrived, being too big in the waist. The person who made it advised me to "move a couple of the buttons over", out of line with the rest, as a means of taking it in. Although no seamstress myself, this didn't seem too sensible and I was highly skeptical, but did it nonetheless. Disaster---it looked terrible and did not solve the problem, so back the buttons went to their original location.

(*My jacket was made by a seamstress I would NEVER recommend, and had problems with. I had to do some work on it myself as well as on the shift---She had put the collar on upsidedown! Everything now looks and fits amazingly. I now deal only with several wonderful and reputable seamstresses. You can read about my unfortunate experience with the so-called 'American Duchess' here. )

Common sense, and a mother who was a crackerjack seamstress definitely had given me the inkling that this was NOT the way to go, so with great apprehension I myself opened the lining at the 2 back seams, and pinned in the wool seams of the jacket for a few inches in length near the the waist area. I tapered my line to blend into the the seams above and below, making a smooth transition with no bulges, crossed my fingers and stitched. I merely 'guesstimated' at what I needed to take in to fit, making the jacket a full 2 inches smaller in the waist. I then re-stitched the lining closed by hand, and being busy at the time, pressed and hung the jacket back in the closet.

I FINALLY found the time to put my whole entire ensemble on and see if what I had done had worked and looked good. Oh my---Here I must wave my own flag just a bit---the jacket fits perfectly now---No 'wrinkles' or gaps at the waist, and not overly tight either.
My husband  noticed the difference immediately. I am very proud of my little foray into garment construction, and that the jacket now is comfortable and perfectly fitted. Here you can see a photo, just taken, of me wearing it. (I made the petticoat I am wearing, and have already gotten the most lovely compliments on it.)

Our website has been a wonderful means of bringing several treasured friends into my life. One recently sent me a gift---a container of Locatelli cheese, with a wish for me to create something wonderful and enjoy it. Well, my friend, that I have done. I made up my own healthy version of swedish meatballs, and oh, YUM. Adam seemed transported to culinary heaven, having a large second helping with a big smile on his face.
I took lean ground turkey and added some eggs, some 100% whole wheat bread crumbs, about 1/2 c. of the Locatelli, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cardamom. I made meatballs and baked them. I then took some Bob's Red Mill oat bran flour and mixed it with a little fat free chicken broth. I poured more broth into this in a pan, along with about another 1/3-1/2 cup of the Locatelli, and simmered until thickened (NO butter, NO cream, etc.). I then added some low fat Cabot sour cream. I put the meatballs into the sauce, and baked the whole thing in a very low oven, in a covered casserole dish for about an hour until we were ready to eat. I served these over Bella Terra WHOLE WHEAT Spaghetti. Absolutely fabulous.

Customers and new friends from Indiana sent us the most charming photos of their home including some with a piece purchased from us in it's new place of honor in the keeping room. Their snug little home is filled with wonderful treasures lovingly and thoughtfully collected over a lifetime. Like us, they have sacrificed and saved and every piece they have has a story and a memory. Everything looked just beautiful, and we had such a nice visit with them while they were here that we hope they will come back to New England, and come to see us again very soon.

This morning I had a nice long phone chat with my wonderful friend Barb, in the midwest. She tried the Perdue chicken in a bag and loved it as much as we do. We always have lots to say to each other and it was so nice. I only wish all of these cherished friends of mine could be here and we could have tea and conversation together in my little house, for all of us are birds of a feather and would get along so well.

It has been nippy here in New Hampshire, but the next couple of days are supposed to hit the 70's. Adam and I have a tandem bike that we love to ride for miles and miles in summer. Here is a picture of it. It is a cheery red English mountain tandem. We plan on a last ride before we tuck it away in the woodshed for the season...

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we have been taking about what to do. It is just the 2 of us this year. In years past I have always roasted the turkey in the fireplace. Last year we had our wonderful hearth-cooked DINNER WITH THE PILGRIMS in November as well. Every year a neighboring hamlet has a 'town Thanksgiving dinner', held in the town hall. This is a free 'community suppa' open to everyone, and it is always full to bursting. A lot of local people go every year and bring family with them from Massachusetts or wherever. Most small New England villages have community suppers during the year on a regular basis. This is a classic 'New England thing'. The Freedom Town Thanksgiving Dinner is held at a town hall. Everyone sits at long tables for 20 people or so. The turkeys, and all the food is homemade and delicious. We have gone several times in years past, and have been asked to come in full 17thc. dress, to the delight of all the guests. Adam brings his 17thc. doglock musket, bandolier, bayonet etc., and we bring a period canteen and such. Everyone loves to see these things and ask a million questions. We always have a great time---no cooking, and they even send us home with leftovers.

SEE MORE OF US IN 17THC. DRESS HERE~





October 26, 2010

My home~

UPDATE 2013~OUR BEAUTIFULLY RESTORED 18TH CENTURY CAPE IS NOW FOR SALE~






I live in a small New Hampshire town. It is not fancy or ritzy. Rather than manicured, the gardens are classic New England. I stood in line once at the counter inside the post office behind a young boy buying stamps, with his pet goat on a leash. There are a few small businesses where the door is always open even when no one is there. You can help yourself to what you need from the freezer or shelf. There is a calculator and a sales pad on the counter so you can figure out what you owe, and a kettle to put your money or check into. It is a place that holds on and clings to the best of what are the 'old' ways and traditions of New England. It is lost in time a bit more than most places nowadays. It is my home.

The little village is steeped in history. There is the better know history of Captain Lovewell and his fort here in 1725, and the Indian wars, and then there is the lesser known history---the story of the common men and women who settled and lived here. There are none living now to tell of their days here. There are books of course, but I am grateful that I live in this small cape, one of the oldest houses in town, a house with a story to tell, and a place that was going to seed before I came. This tiny corner of town by the lazy meandering river and the still-water-powered mill, first built by John Sanderson in the 18th century is our miniature 'historic district' and was settled first. The old houses left were all falling into disrepair when, around the time I came, so did a few other folks looking for a simpler way of life. Many of us do not live in big houses and have fancy 'toys' and 'stuff'. The things I once thought were important to have mean nothing to me now. We make do with less and are glad of it. Slowly, one by one these houses were brought back to life.

Today I walked the loop around the little village with my two yorkies in one pack on my chest. It is in the 70's. The trees are in the last vestiges of glorious color. I looked at my neighbors houses and reflected on their many kindnesses to me these past 12 years. I walked slowly. I looked at the sun wavering through the bright trees, and dancing on the river, savoring every minute of this time.

My husband is truly my best friend and the love of my life. My neighbors are there if we need them. My little house is all I could ever want. I envy no one. I am a rich woman.

(***Take a tour of my 18thc. home to period musick.)

October 20, 2010

Friendship, and a classic New England day...





I am sitting at my long stretcher base table that overlooks the kitchen garden, the multi-paned windows in this room face west. The sun is streaming in, and turning everything gold as it reflects off the saffron leaves that have fallen from the trees, and are tucked among the stone walls.
It is hard not to feel good on a day like this.

My yorkie girls are on their trolley lines outside enjoying the sun and frolicking in the fallen leaves. After a day of many tasks and work, I have just had the most wonderful phone chat with my dearest friend, Penny. We are the kind of friends who I have no doubt destiny brought together. Our friendship is deep and effortless, and we are true kindred spirits. We reminisced a bit about her visit here in early September, and the wonderful day we had spending time at some remarkable 17th century sites, all 3 of us in period dress. We talked of future visits, and what we would do, and where we would go. The anticipation of times to share in the future is a very sweet thing.

We have a big pumpkin on the porch that my husband, an artist, is going to carve this weekend to look like our yorkie dogs. I wish you could see my snug little cape today, leaves falling all around and the sun glinting off the tiny panes of window glass. Inside a wood fire is laid in the bedroom fireplace for later. We have a DVD of an old silent movie set during the French Revolution called Orphans of the Storm, from 1922. We are going to have a fire and cuddle in the old bed with it's new hangings and watch it. I have just a few gourds and small pumpkins here and there on a table or two, and the 24 inch wide pumpkin pine floorboards look golden in the afternoon sun.

Tonight I am grilling some fresh salmon with just a bit of olive oil and dijon mustard on it, and I made my '50/50' mashed potatoes with half sweet potatoes, and half the fresh white potatoes we bought in Maine last week. Our 'Spencer apple crisp' is cooling on the soapstone counter by the kitchen window, and will make a fine dessert.

Dear Penny, I am sending you a bit of my New England day with these words.

October 19, 2010

A little project we did~













When I posted recently about out day trip to Maine, I mentioned that we purchased an antique 'faux book' box for only a few dollars. It was in rough shape, but a great size, and we knew we could do something with it and make is look smashing.

We saw a very large similar looking book on a court cupboard at Plimoth Plantation. Our 'faux' book was perfect we thought for hiding our ugly TV remote, etc. We did some research on popular (large) books of the 17th century, besides the bible.
We decided on PARADISE LOST by John Milton. We then perused 17thc. lettering styles and chose our favorite. Adam carefully freehand painted the title and author on the 'book's' spine in the lettering style we chose. I used painter's tape and a sponge to mark off and sponge paint 'stripes' on the spine as well. We mixed colors of paint, and then painted all the sides of the 'book' to mimic pages, since the original paper that had been there was now gone. With some umber and a very dry brush, Adam added the look of 'pages', and then I 'aged' the whole thing.

Our faux book is now sitting on a table by our bed with the TV remote, lip balm, and a current magazine in it, hidden from view.

Here are some BEFORE and AFTER photos of the book~We do indeed think it came out very well.

October 18, 2010

October 16, 2010

A Turkey's Tale~








At the harvest festival at the 1660 Jackson House in New Hampshire.

The turkey's name is Socrates. He strutted around freely, aware of his majestic self.

Adam, taking aim...what a fine harvest dinner you would be...

Mary petted Socrates....and---Socrates was reprieved!

They danced for joy and had pumpkin soup instead.



MARY'S HOMEMADE PUMPKIN SOUP
(I usually make this on the hearth...)

1c. chopped onion
4T. butter
1 large (29 oz.) can of MASHED PUMPKIN (DO NOT use pumpkin pie filling.)
1 tsp. sea salt
2-3T. dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
pepper
3c. chicken stock
1c. heavy cream

Cook onion in butter until soft. Add pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Slowly add broth. Cook for awhile.
Add the cream just before serving, and heat through, but DO NOT allow to boil. Mmmmmm!
We like to have this with homemade Anadama bread.

(note~if soup is REALLY too thick, you can add more broth, but don't add too much-soup should not be too thin.)

October 15, 2010

THE FIRST PATRIOTS~A Documentary Film we are in, about the 17thc. King Philip's War in New England~

Taking a break during filming~






Adam and I are acting in a documentary being filmed in Massachusetts on the pivotal 'King Philip's War' of the mid 1600's here in New England. We have been involved with the film for several years, and it is almost completed. The filmmaker may be coming up to our home to our home to film some interior scenes.





Adam and Ken Hamilton


Only parts of this property in Massachusetts were used. None of the furniture in the Peake house was featured. Some scenes may be filmed in our house.





We have had a lot of fun, and this was a great experience for us. In the sidebar on this blog, you can click on the photo of Adam  showing him during one filming of a scene, and it will take you to a Youtube video of a movie clip.

Here I have posted some photos of us that were taken during the filming.

***UPDATE, 2013~ SEE MORE OF OUR 17THC. ADVENTURES HERE~