Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Making Regency Era Undergarments

The one thing I didn't think would happen has happened.

I ordered a custom Regency corset from a seller on Etsy back in February of this year. I was supposed to get it this week. I get a message from her yesterday politely backing out of the transaction.

I get why.

She's a new mom and the baby is colicky.

She didn't anticipate motherhood being so time-consuming.

I'm not angry or anything, but WOWEEE.

Here is Plan B, the brassiere on the left.

The unanticipated Plan B that will likely be much more comfortable than the custom Regency Long Stays that I had previously ordered. After all, I'm not a skinny minnie.

The pattern is coming, should be here tomorrow since it's shipping from the city I live in, and then I'll shop for supplies on the way home from work since I already have the list. It'll give me something exciting to do this weekend!

Life has an exciting way of tossing curve balls at one. In this case, it will also result in my saving money. And that is God's intervention.

I'll share the results here, be they successful or unsuccessful.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

A Day in Denver - Visiting the Edgar Degas exhibit at the Denver Art Museum

Degas masterpieces bring to mind my years spent in ballet classes as a child. My grandmother Jeanne, Granje to my sister and me, gave me a gorgeous canvas zipper bag one year, likely to carry my ballet supplies in, and the design is one of Degas' dancers.

I still have this bag, even though it's a tiny bit worse for wear. The zipper had problems for many years and then my sweet mother figured out how to fix it, so I can actually use it again. I think it must be at least 20 years old by now, maybe closer to 25 years old.

So when I heard that a Degas exhibit was coming to Denver, you can imagine my ecstasy!

Caitlin and I bought tickets to the exhibit for today and as our parents headed out of town with their travel trailer for a long weekend, we headed up to Denver to experience some artwork!

I confess, the exhibition is rather small if you're accustomed to large museums. But Denver is not New York City so we're pretty much thankful for any opportunities we have to experience culture. 

The exhibit was charming.

It covered Degas' progression in both style and medium throughout his life. He spent time on portraits and landscapes in his youth, then the nude form (both male and female) before progressing through a period of derby horses and their movements and the lines of their bodies, before finally landing on the nude female form, usually bathing and/or drying themselves.

Ballet dancers were last and Caitlin and I are both in agreement that, for us anyway, his finest representation of the ballet dancer are in his charcoal drawings. They were stunning and I could have stared at them for hours.

Like I said, the exhibit presented a smattering of his work throughout his years.

We learned that he truly did work in a variety of mediums, sometimes blending them into a single piece of art. He also worked in monotypes that produced haunting dark landscapes that I personally had never seen before.

For me, I consider his finest work to have been done in his later years. His early work wasn't iconic enough and you see very little of the later Degas in the portraits and landscapes he created as a younger man.

But that's okay.

It reminded me that we're all going somewhere and who we were before doesn't mean we can't mature and grow into something amazing and different.

Needless to say, Caitlin and I loved the exhibit. She came away with scads of postcards for her collection and I have an enchanting ballet dancer poster to hang in my work cubicle. I know just where I'll put it.

I can mark Degas off my bucket list, although I would love to see even more of his work someday, particularly the ballet dancer paintings in pastels that I love so very much. Now to hope for an opportunity to see Monet's work. I'm quite a fan of the impressionists as you might guess!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Dreaming of a Jane Austen Immersion Weekend!

Photo Credit: BBC's Emma (2009)

I've been in a retrospective mood lately, feasting intellectually on nothing but Jane Austen and C.S. Lewis. Every time that I read Austen, I'm reminded how I wish I could have a Regency immersion experience. Reading Katherine Reay's latest book, The Austen Escape, probably didn't help much since it's all about taking a 2 week Regency immersion vacation in a manor outside of Bath. The book itself, while entertaining, didn't quite follow every plot thread through to fruition, so while I enjoyed it, it won't be a re-read. 

But, like I said, it gave me such an intense longing to just get away and live Austen for a week, or even a weekend. 

The only problem is that most hotels and bed and breakfasts, for some absurd reason, don't host such things.  Pooh on them.

But I did find one lone manor, called The Governor's Place in Hyde Park, that opens itself up regularly for Jane Austen weekends!

My heart skipped a literal beat, or several, at the very idea of getting away for an entire weekend to spend time in Regency garb, take English Country Dance lessons, and simply revel in all things regency and Jane Austen.

Photo Credit: The Governor's House in Hyde Park

True, the pricing is $465 for a single occupant, but you know what? I have a charming, loving sister who would gladly accompany me, and perhaps even a friend who might give it consideration, although Vermont is quite a ways away. If 3 of us shared a room, the charge would only be $395 per person instead of $465, and that's actually saying something. Friday evening through Sunday, PLUS if we decided to stay longer after the weekend, the room would only be at half the nightly rate! 

I know, I'm currently just fantasizing right now, but there's a reason to be gainfully employed and to tuck funds away. One can't spend one's entire life hoarding money like Ebenezer Scrooge without having any intention of really living and experiencing the time that God has given us.

My original thought was to host a Regency Garden Party this summer, and while that may still happen, my horizons are trying to broaden themselves. The last time Caitlin and I went away together, just sisters, we shared a lovely Disney experience. I could see us doing this and cherishing every moment. 

If a certain someone who will remain nameless, but you know who you are, would consider joining us, that would be icing on the proverbial cake! Of course, at this point I haven't even mentioned it to Caitlin. I think she just might go for the idea now that has that full-time job (thank you, Lord!) and will have a decent amount of time off accrued by the time one of the Jane Austen weekends rolled around this year.

Photo Credit: The Governor's House in Hyde Park

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Book Review: Cloaked by Rachel Kovaciny (A Western Retelling of Little Red Riding Hood)

I confess to having read this book a year or so ago and, to my shame, never got around to reviewing it. But I know Rachel is working feverishly on her next book in the series, a retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses called Dancing and Doughnuts.

Anyway, here we go, jumping into the first review I've written in many, many months.

Cloaked is an endearing jump to a simpler time, when westerns ruled the world. Sadly, Hollywood doesn't really dish out decent westerns anymore, but Rachel has captured the look, the feel, and the characters that used to run rampant through the western towns of America, at least to hear Hollywood tell of it.

This book is precisely what it claims to be, a western retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. You have the innocent heroine, Mary Rose, who is blossoming into a lovely young woman, taking a journey to meet her grandmother living in Wyoming Territory, a woman she's never met.

While on her journey, Mary Rose encounters a man named Mr. Linden who knows her grandmother and is trusted by her, but Mary Rose simply can't shrug off the sensation that Mr. Linden gives her the creeps. Something isn't quite right about him, and she doesn't know why, at least, not yet.

I've always been partial to Little Red Riding Hood, ever since I watched the Faerie Tale Theatre version with Mary Steenburgen as the heroine. But I never really imagined one in a western setting until Rachel began publishing her retellings. There's no magic here and no actual wolf eating granny. Which makes the villain a little more terrifying because he's simply a man yielding to his wicked tendencies.

An entertaining read, Cloaked is diverting for fans of westerns, particularly those who don't mind a little Christian faith tossed into the mix. Light entertainment, the book is an enchanting experience that I now intend to hand off to my mother who is a western aficionado, both in literature and film!

If you want to follow Rachel on her writing adventure, try her FACEBOOK or her WEBSITE.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

3 Reasons why When Calls the Heart needs Pastor Frank

Photo Credit: Hallmark Channel

While I haven't been a Heartie since the very very beginning, I did join in season 2 because one of my very dear friends urged me to try When Calls the Heart. I loved the 1st season, and while I haven't always agreed with every choice made concerning the direction of the show, I've been loyal for the past 4 years, loyal enough that I attended the HFR2 with that same good friend. 

I got to meet Mark Humphrey at the HFR2 and listen to him speak and share his heart about how strongly he connected with the character of Pastor Frank because of circumstances in his own past. I saw a genuine, charismatic man who glowed in the light of When Calls the Heart and let that light shine into the show itself. Hearties like myself relate to Pastor Frank because Mark Humphrey made him so relatable. 

Do you remember this interview Connie Wang held with Mark in 2015 on Parade? 

He describes Pastor Frank as a, "a genuine, honest, good man who has dedicated himself to God's work. He's been through a lot of turmoil in his rough past and found salvation."

Wow. I mean, WOW!

There's something precious about a pastor who found his way to God after running away from Him for so long.

Which begs the question of why? Why has Pastor Frank been written off When Calls the Heart

The writers and producers of When Calls the Heart have always made themselves accessible to the Hearties, which is an amazing gift, first of all. And second of all, bolsters my hope that someone may actually give Pastor Frank fans such as myself a straight answer. From all I've heard, Mark Humphrey is a great guy and was willing to continue with the show. 

What happened and can it be undone?

3 Reasons why When Calls the Heart needs Pastor Frank:

1)  Without a pastor, the church is just a schoolroom. Pastor Frank shepherded the flock in Hope Valley and without him, they have no spiritual leader. That building was intended to be a church and a school, but in the 5th season, it's been just a school. Hope Valley needs Frank to grow the faith of the Hope Valley citizens on a personal level.

2)  There's not enough leading men in When Calls the Heart to begin with and then we lose 2 men in the same season. 

3)  Abigail deserves another happy ending. And Frank is the best man we've met so far who can give her that with gentility, grace, and faith. Especially now that Bill Avery and AJ have such a tangible and fiery "thing" going on (LOVE her btw).

The crux of my opinion really is that I want to see more Christian faith, not less. I'm in the middle of rewatching When Calls the Heart's 1st season, and the Christian faith is abundant, authentic, and loving.

Please, bring Pastor Frank back to Hope Valley. We need him.

Blessings to my fellow Hearties, the cast and crew of our favorite show, Papa Heartie, and those at Hallmark.