Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Twins Walk, Tumble, and Babble

When the boys walk, they don't exactly watch where they're going. Crash! Tumble! Regroup! Babble about it all. Oh, and make sure Mama is watching...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Top 100 Books List

According to the BBC, the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books on their list. How many have you read? Kalianne at Bygone Beauty posted this meme.

Turns out I've read 51 of the books on the list, more than I thought but less than I'd like.

If you'd like to participate in this meme simply copy the list and follow the instructions below. Don't worry if you haven't read many books - the list is only opinion. Be sure to include the books you'd like to read too and those you think should be struck off the list. Feel free to list books not on the list that you deem worthy. Finally, be sure to post a comment so we know where to find you!

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you love.( I had a hard time underlining so I put starred them)
4) Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read at school and hated.
5) Reprint this list in your own blog.

The List

1 *Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 *The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 *Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling (Strike them. I am not sure these will hold up with time. They are already fading from children's memories. Sudden mass popularity doesn't equal long-term reading.)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 *The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 *Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (many of them)
15 *Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 *The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 *Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 *The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 *Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 *The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 *Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 *Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 *The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (strike it: I do not think this will hold up with time)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert (strike it. Oh please. The Time Machine would be more appropriate.)
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo- Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding (strike it: I do not think this will hold up with time)
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 *The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81* A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day- Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 *Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89* Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole (read part of it: not top drawer. Strike it.)
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 *The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 *Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (strike it: not top drawer)
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I didn't strike that many books, not because I feel they should be included, but because I wasn't familiar with them and couldn't comment.

Books I feel should have been included: most are part of the most basic fabric of our Western culture!

1. Homer: The Odyssey
2. Homer: The Iliad
3. Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn
4. Patrick O'Brian: Aubrey-Maturin series
5. Anthony Trollope: Phineas Finn
6. Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter
7. John Milton: Paradise Lost
Goethe: Faust
Thomas Malory: Le Morte d'Arthur
Geoffrey Chaucer: Canterbury Tales (I've read parts)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Scaled Drawings of American Regency Garments Available!

Polly, a delightful friend, and fellow period fashion admirer, had the good fortune to attend a Jane Austen festival in Louisville a week or so ago. There was a fashion show, and many of the reproduction garments shown were based on Jennie's patterns, or Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion, or similarly scholarly resources, or from scaled drawings taken of actual garments in museums in the eastern U.S.. Polly thoroughly enjoyed the fashions.

Photo: Scaled drawing of Early Ohio Regency dress from the Ohio Historical Society collection. On The 19th U.S. Regiment of Infantry site.

They have made the scaled drawings available to all, a gift for which we should be truly grateful! There are scaled drawings for a 1795 day dress, three day dresses, and a wedding dress from 1800-1820s. There are also a ca. 1800 brassiere pattern, stays and child's stays, and a full apron. Most of the patterns have detailed photos of the original garments to go along with them. There are photos only of several other dresses and a pretty chemise from about 1820 that's lace trimmed and has a ruffle (!!), and at the fashion show the presenters promised to make more scaled drawings available.

One could make up garments from the drawings, with some work, or tweak Jennie's patterns, and I love the fact that you have so many photos of the exteriors and interiors of the dresses.

The drawings are on the The 19th U.S. Regiment of Infantry reenacting unit site, at See the Women's Clothing section at

Photo: Reenactors at an event in New Orleans, 2005. On The 19th U.S. Regiment of Infantry site. Their ensembles are very nice indeed.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I've Fallen in Love with a Horse

A horse breed, to be specific. Today I met my first Missouri Fox Trotter horse, a sorrel horse with lots of "chrome", meaning he had a flaxen mane and tail. He was sweet-natured and gentle, obviously enjoyed running up and down the meadow as his rider shot balloons with shotgun and pistol, and skewered iron rings onto his saber, or whacked at polo balls, made nothing of all the people around him, the noise of sabers, shotguns and pistols, and had the most marvelous, smooth motion.

Photo: Foxy's Red Ruby, a mare. See Arkansas Foxtrotters for more about her. This is not an exciting picture, and she is heavier than the horse I saw today, but you get an idea of the general looks.

Where were we? Why, the Ashland Estate Family Festival of Nineteenth Century Kentucky Life. There were two riders showing battle training, and picnicers in crinolines, cows and baby goats, sheared sheep with their proud owners, women demonstrating spinning and weaving, a man with a 1917 generator with big glass fluid-filled batteries running antique saw-blade cutting and sanding machines and a saw, men playing banjos and guitars, and much more. Our boys enjoyed the livestock, and Christopher's eyes gleamed and his dimples shone for half an hour straight over the horses and their riders demonstrating their skills.

Oh, I fell in love with that horse all right, asked about him, and his owner told me his breed, and this evening I looked it up. Sure enough, a popular pleasure horse, with a smooth, diagonal "Fox trot" gait, famous for being gentle and alert, surefooted and thus popular for trail riding, and not overbig. A family horse. The breed comes in all color combinations, too, but I loved the warm reddish color and that golden mane...just breathtaking!

Oh my, someday, just maybe? Perhaps I dream, but dreams are fun, too.

For more about the Missouri Fox Trotter, see their association site.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Creating Full Ostrich Plumes

It turns out that usually rich-looking, full and fluffy and curled antique ostrich plumes are not single bird feathers, but sewn-together combinations of multiple feathers.

As stated in the 1928 book The Nu-Way Course in Millinery and Hat Design,

The single plume is used very rarely for a trimming. The full, thick ostrich plume is made up of one feather of which the quill is perfect, built up underneath with less perfect feathers to give the required weight. The feathers are bleached and dyed, then starched, and finally curled.

Further, the 1922 book Millinery says,

Willow plumes were very popular a few years ago. Each tiny feathery fiber is lengthened by having several lengths of the same kind knotted to it, a tedious, fine, hand process. The result is a plume with long, sweeping feathers.

The art of creating these so-full plumes is not lost. See Lynn McMaster's costuming and pattern site for her page on developing nice, thick plumes from several thinner ones, then curling them to taste: Joining, Shaping, and Curling Feathers. This will not create a willow plume, but then, I am not sure many of us would like to spend hours knotting tiny bits of feathers.

Read more about trimming with ostrich feathers from these sewing manuals on the site: