Mr. Porcupine

Meet Mr. Porcupine.  Isn't he adorable?  We think so!  This time of year, we get nearly daily visits from him.  He comes to feast on the newly green grass for a while.  Usually, he waits until cover of darkness for his foraging forays, but now he's getting quite bold.  Today, he was ravenously devouring grass at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, in broad daylight.  He's hoping I plant some cucumber seedlings soon, because he recalls those were most tasty a couple of years ago.  I'm hoping to keep my cucumber seedlings this year, as evidenced by the chicken wire waiting in the basement for planting time.  And we're definitely hoping to keep our sweet golden retriever far away from our visitor.

Preparing for a Baby Shower

We are having a baby shower for Felicity here tomorrow night!  It's an evening dessert tea, with just a few special ladies invited.  I'm hoping to make them all feel loved and pampered with pretty teacups, soft lighting, and lovely music softly playing in the background.  I bought some flowers for the centerpiece.  But then, I couldn't resist buying some more to set here and there...especially when the local store is having a bargain of a deal with two dozen small roses for $4.00!

I plan on us spending the whole party gathered round the dining room table.  The sideboard should be a good place to pile presents, and a little silver bucket full of roses seemed just the thing to add a touch of freshness.

Of Ancestors, and Picnics, and Graves

Last Saturday, Colette and I had a little excursion down into Massachusetts to do some ancestry searches.  We had a list of properties, houses, and graves to find, and only managed to accomplish some of our list, but we had a fabulous time!  

The most exciting find of the day was our visit to Cogswell's Grant.  John Cogswell was my 10th great-grandfather, and he was given a grant by the King of England to 300 acres of land in, what is now, Essex, Massachusetts.

He built a home on the property.  Over the years, it was added on to, until the original house was torn down. What remains now is the house built by his grandson (not in my blood line).  But the land, though diminished in size and no longer in the family, is still a working farm.

The older barn on the property, which I believe dates to 1728.

The house, c. 1732, is open for tours during the warmer months of the year.  But being quiet and having the place to ourselves, it provided a lovely spot for our picnic!

Springtime arrives, and each year I am just so eager to go on a picnic!  This year, I could hardly wait to get outside for one.  I've spent some time researching the history of picnics, and hope to share that with you someday soon.

- Menu -

Crackers and Quark
Sliced Strawberries & Tangerines
Croissant Sandwiches with Black Forest Ham, Lettuce, Sliced Brie,
and Sliced Strawberries (super yummy!)
Sparkling Cider

The front yard of the property is terraced into three levels, with the house and a large maple tree sitting at the top.  The yard, a little wider than the house is encompassed by an old, stone wall.  And at the bottom of the yard was a simply gorgeous patch of blue springtime flowers.  Ahhh...we felt positively transported to England!

It was all so pretty, it was difficult to leave.  But we had more exploring to do, so off we went to nearby Ipswich.  Here we studied hundreds of gravestones in one of their old graveyards, in an attempt to find the graves of about six different relations.

All of our searching resulted in just one find, but we were thrilled to find that!  John Tuttle was my 8th great-grandfather.  We laid flowers on his grave and left, determined to return another day and renew our search at another graveyard.

Sabbath Rest

Witch hazel blooming at Old Sturbridge Village.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!"
- 2 Corinthians 5:17

George Washington Costume

I've been working on this costume for months, and at long last it is in the shop!  The George Washington Costume!  I studied historical portraits of General Washington and reproduced this to be a close approximation of his military uniform.  It's ready to ship!

Favorite Places and Details - Old Sturbridge Village

One of my favorite places in all of New England is Old Sturbridge Village.  And so, I thought I would share with you some images from two buildings there.

The first is the Freeman Farm.  I never miss a chance to visit the Freeman Farm every time I go, because it's so full of life!  Something is always happening there.  Animals in the barnyard.  Smoke curling from the chimney.  Food cooking in the kitchen.  This time, it was a bit startling to see the front part of the house "dyed" black (I was told it was dyed, not painted) because it was recently part of a movie shoot.

Good smells were coming from the kitchen...freshly baked apple pie aroma mingling with wood smoke.  Ahhhh.

Just off the kitchen is the dairy room, where milk and cheese are made.  The lighting in this room is always so luminous.  Everything's so simple and elemental, beautiful and useful.

And off the other side of the kitchen is the drying room, where herbs and fish are hung to dry.

And the utility rooms at the back were occupied by...oh my...chickens!  They, apparently, thought it was too cold outside and came in for some warmth.

While the Freeman Farm is a replication of a working farm from the 1830's, the next house, in stark contrast, is furnished and equipped as the house of a wealthy merchant of the time.  Fine furnishings, beautiful linens, china, elaborate wallpapers, etc. can be found throughout the Salem Towne House.

This room, an upstairs bedroom, has a collapsible wall between it and another adjoining bedroom.  Opening up this wall enabled the original owners to use the larger area as a ballroom.  How fun it would've been to attend a small dance in this beautiful room!

I hope you enjoyed your tour!

Costuming Tour - Old Sturbridge Village

Last Saturday, I was part of a small group (nine people) who had the privilege of touring the costuming department at Old Sturbridge Village.  The village is a living history museum that recreates a New England town of the 1830's.  It has an extensive staff of interpreters, all of whom are costumed by a small staff working out of this tiny, densely-packed house on a corner of the property.

On display in the first room, an office, was this gorgeous, gold silk reproduction gown.  If my memory serves me correctly, it was done by an intern and is an exact replica of a gown in their collection.

"Exact" truly means "exact" in this case.  It is exact in the 1/32" error in matching down the center front seam of the bodice, and in the number of handstitches per inch.  Simply an amazing piece of workmanship by a very talented, hardworking woman.  It took 2-3 months to complete.

Then it was on to explore the work rooms and closet rooms throughout the building.  Thread upon thread in gorgeous colors!

There was a bonnet storage room.  All the straw bonnets on the floor were divided by age, from age 14 to 18, as with increasing age, a girl could wear an "older looking" bonnet.

This beautiful bonnet, carefully protected by a plastic bag, caught my eye.  Such pretty ribbon!

My favorite room was the ladies' accessories room, filled with intriguingly labeled boxes containing all manner of necessities for the lady of the 1830's.

The ladies' closet room was filled with period dresses.  A newly-hired interpreter would be taken here to see if anything in the room might fit her, and if not, a new gown would be made.  I tried to imagine how fun it would be to get to choose from among these gowns, and so headed over to my size to see which one I would pick from among the selection.

This one!  Definitely this one!  Loved it's smocked sleeves!  Although the tartan dresses were catching my eye too.

And what a pretty print this is!  All the cotton prints are period reproduction fabrics.

I thought it was interesting that the men's shirts didn't seem too different, in terms of prints, than modern day shirts.  This could almost been any man's closet.

The entire basement is devoted to menswear.  Hats upon hats!  All the straw hats in the village are made by a group of Pennsylvania farmers' wives, who make hats for the village in the wintertime, when their own farms demand less of their time.

Next up is a pictorial view of some of my favorite scenes in Old Sturbridge Village.
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