Friday, July 21, 2017

Christmas in July, for Only 99 Cents!

Do these hot days and humid nights make you long for snowflakes and winter wonderlands? Well, you’re in luck. My True Love Gave to Me, my Regency Christmas story that begins The Marvelous Munroes series, is on sale for 99 cents at all major online retailers worldwide through July 30.

Genevieve Munroe is determined to give her newly impoverished family one last happy Christmas, including making peace with their long-time rivals, the Pentercasts. Then the handsome oldest son Alan proposes a wager: if he can give her all the gifts from the Twelve Days of Christmas song, she must marry him.

Alan’s wild gambit is intended to win Gen’s heart. After all, no Munroe would ever marry a Pentercast. But perhaps the joy of Christmas can open her eyes to the man behind the wager, a man determined to turn the twelve days of Christmas into a lifetime of love.

Kobo  

Merry Christmas, in July!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Retro Blast: Flirting with Parasols


I am not a sun-worshipper. In summer I can usually be found seeking any available patch of shade, slathered in sunscreen and wearing a large hat. I heartily wish parasols would make a comeback: they're fun and stylish...and evidently, one can do a lot more with them than use them to ward off unwelcome UV rays, as we learned from this 2009 post about Daniel Shafer's 1877 Secrets of Life Revealed. Enjoy!

I must say that I regret that parasols are no longer in fashion—a pity, as they have a long history stretching back to the ancient world (yes, Babylonian and Greek women—and men!—used parasols to fend off the fierce middle eastern sun.) The thing is, they’re just incredibly useful: you can carry around some shade with you on a hot summer day, create your own flattering lighting by carrying a parasol of just the right color, or make a decided fashion statement by coordinating your parasol with the rest of your ensemble. And when furled, a parasol makes a fine instrument of self-defense that doesn’t require a license to carry!

And of course, they’re such fun to flirt with—peeking coyly from underneath them, or swinging them insouciantly at one’s side…the possibilities are endless! Daniel Shafer certainly recognized this fact, and furnishes the following tips on how to flirt with parasols:

Like the Handkerchief, Glove, and Fan, the "Parasol" has its important part to play in flirtations, and we give the following rules regulating the same: 

Carrying it elevated in left hand:  Desiring acquaintance

Carrying it elevated in right hand: 
You are too willing

Carrying it closed in left hand: 
Meet on the first crossing

Carrying it closed in right hand by the side: 
Follow me

Carrying it over the right shoulder: 
You can speak to me

Carrying it over the left shoulder: 
You are too cruel

Closing up: 
I wish to speak to you

Dropping it: 
I love you

End of tips to lips: 
Do you love me?

Folding it up: 
Get rid of your company

Letting it rest on the right cheek: 
Yes

Letting it rest on the left cheek: 
No

Striking it on the hand: 
I am very displeased

Swinging it to and fro by the handle on left side: 
I am engaged

Swinging it to and fro by the handle on the right side: 
I am married

Tapping the chin gently: 
I am in love with another

Twirling it around: 
Be careful; we are watched

Using it as a fan: 
Introduce me to your company

With handle to lips: 
Kiss me

I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips on how to secretly communicate with fans, gloves, handkerchiefs, and parasols…it’s rather like a 19th century form of texting, isn’t it?

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Emperor's Water Fountain

There is something majestic about a fountain, the sparkle, the cool mist on your cheek, the bubble mimicking a natural waterfall. But it wasn’t an eye toward nature that prompted the building of the Emperor Fountain at Chatsworth, home of the Dukes of Devonshire. It seems to have been a little old-fashioned one-upmanship.

William George Spencer Cavendish, the 6th Duke of Devonshire, had been notified that no less than Czar Nicholas I of Russia planned to visit his home in 1844. Devonshire is known as the Bachelor Duke, for he never married, causing quite a few ladies to sigh with regret. He had ascended to the title at the tender age of 21. An avid horticulturist, he made friends with the equally young Sir Joseph Paxton and convinced him to take the position of chief gardener at Chatsworth. The Duke wanted a fountain, and it was Paxton who conceived of a way to create a gravity-fed one along the Great House’s south face.
You see, the Czar had a fountain at Peterhof Palace. It’s still among the biggest tourist attractions in Russia. Big being the operative word—jets and cascades and gilded statues. Devonshire wanted one that would shoot even higher.

He got it.

The Emperor Fountain at Chatsworth sits at the northern end of the Canal Pond, surrounded by natural boulders. It has shot as high as 300 feet. (In contrast, the highest fountain at Peterhof only reaches 60 feet.) The power comes from water pressure, the water dropping from an artificial lake 350 feet above the house through a narrow iron pipe. Since 1893, the pressure has also been used to generate electricity for the house.


Although the Czar never did come to visit, Prince Wilhelm of Prussia did stop by and marvel. So should we.

Do I hear another item being added to a bucket list?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Recent Acquisitions: Bathing Place Evening Dress

Just in time for summer...


Isn’t this a delightful print, from the September 1810 edition of La Belle Assemblee?  I mean...she’s wearing what we would call pantalettes, complete with a triple lace frill round each leg...not to mention sandals. The style itself is surprisingly simple, buttoning up the front. It’s cute as a bug, but certainly unlike any early 19th century evening dress I’ve seen before. Since no text accompanied it. I dug around on-line and found this in Google Books:

No. 2.—A FASHIONABLE SEA-SIDE WALKING DRESS
A gown of white French cambric, or pale pink muslin, with long sleeves, and antique cuffs of thin white muslin, trimmed with Mechlin edging; made high in the neck, without a collar, and formed in points at the center of the bosom, with three rows of letting-in lace; confined down the front of the dress with small buttons; and hemmed round the bottom with three rows of deep Mechlin lace; made rather short, and worn over trousers of white French cambric, which are trimmed the same as the bottom of the dress. A cap composed of lace and light green silk trimming, tied under the chin, with a bunch of natural flowers in front. Hair in full ringlet curls, divided in the front of the forehead. A figured short scarf of pale buff, with deep pale-green border, and rich silk tassels; worn according to fancy or convenience; with gloves of pale buff kid; and sandals of pale yellow, or white Morocco, complete this truly simple but becoming dress.
And there you have it—the reason it’s unlike any other evening dress is because it’s actually a walking dress...and perfect for that. Evidently an engraver for La Belle Assemblee took a mental vacation while working on this print, and gave it an incorrect title. Can’t you see a fashionable young lady out in society, visiting Brighton at the end of the London season, tripping blithely down the sands (not that Brighton has a very sandy beach), kicking at the waves, picking up pretty seashells, and generally having a time of it?☺